Energy governance


The realisation of sustainable development of energy systems is a monumental challenge, not only for politics and society. Strategic scientific information is needed to support opinion formation and decision-making processes. However, the services which science has to provide to support the transition to a sustainable energy system have – in part – other characteristics than the 'traditional' scientific outputs (e.g. technological innovations, new explanatory knowledge about environmental or health impacts, etc.).

The normative character of sustainability, its inseparable connection with deep-rooted societal structures and value patterns , the long-term nature of many relevant developments, as well as the necessary inclusion of societal actors, result in specific demands on scientific policy support.

Scientific knowledge for sustainable development has to consist of targeted and context-sensitive combinations of

  • Explanatory knowledge - i.e. energy system knowledge or knowledge of the interactions between societal activities, energy service demands, energy technologies (supply & demand) and the resulting impacts
  • Orientation knowledge - i.e. knowledge of justification arguments which operate with normative premises
  • Knowledge for action - i.e. scientific contributions to the 'therapy' of unsustainable situations

Furthermore, this kind of knowledge will always be provisional and incomplete in its descriptive aspects, as well as dependent on changing normative expectations. Therefore, science for sustainability needs to be reflexive – i.e. sensitive to the conditions of knowledge production.

Society and policy makers not only have to be 'provided' with action-guiding knowledge, but also with an awareness of the manner in which this knowledge is to be interpreted, and where the inevitable uncertainties lie. Taken together, these challenges demarcate the 'playing field' for the research track "Energy governance".

On-going projects


ISAF is an Integrated Sustainability Assessment study of energy systems on the European level, with an additional focus on the implications of the introduction of the fusion energy option in the long term (acronym ISAF).

The overall aim of the study is to perform a policy-supportive Integrated Sustainability Assessment study (or 'exercise') in the interest of energy governance on the European level, with an additional focus on the implications of the introduction of the fusion energy option in the long term. Taking into account the methodological description below, the study intends to provide the basis for an ISA procedure embedded in a multi-level governance structure, that could inspire future European and national energy governance policies in the frame of sustainable development.

Contact: Meskens Gaston

Sustainable Energy Policy Integrated Assessment (SEPIA)

For BELSPO, PISA researchers are involved in a three-year research project (Jan. 2008 – Dec. 2010) called 'Sustainable Energy Policy Integrated Assessment' (SEPIA). Partners are the 'Instituut voor Milieukunde' (IMK) of the University of Antwerp (UA), the research group 'Menselijke Ecologie' (MEKO) of the Free University of Brussels (VUB), and the research group 'Centre Liégois d'Etude de l' Opinion' (CLEO) of the University of Liège (Ulg).

Read more / Contact: Schröder Jantine

Previous projects

The Possibility of Global Energy Governance

This research activity broadly evolves on three parallel but interrelated reflection tracks, each of them starting with a specific research aim. Knowing that energy governance is a complex problem that includes the application of risk-inherent energy technologies, the overall goal is to analyse aspects and 'criteria' of 'good' global energy governance, and how this approach relates to the idea of sustainable development.

Read more / Contact: Meskens Gaston

PhD research 'Nuclear energy and sustainable development'

A PhD research project ('Nuclear energy and sustainable development' – Laes 2006) addressed the question of sustainable energy governance starting from the debate on the Belgian nuclear phase out.

Read more /Contact: Meskens Gaston

Rapport 'Kernenergie en maatschappelijk debat'

Boek 'Kernenergie (on)besproken'

For viWTA, PISA researchers together the research group 'Menselijke Ecologie' (MEKO) of the Free University of Brussels (VUB) studied the historical dynamics of the nuclear energy controversy in Belgium.

Read more /Contact: Meskens Gaston

Contributions to the Socio-economic Research on Fusion (SERF) programme within the European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA)

For EFDA-SERF, research looked at how the results of energy modelling can be used in communication on fusion energy scenarios, analysing the different views with respect to modelling results.

Read more /Contact: Meskens Gaston