The future of energy is highly uncertain. Under the looming threat of climate change, there is increasing pressure to transform the ways in which energy is generated, distributed, traded and consumed in order to achieve more sustainable futures. Yet the conditions of these transformations are constantly changing. While the Fridays for Future movement has shown increasing support for environmental transformations, the political atmosphere under which energy transitions are being implemented has changed.
Large sections of society are openly contesting the prospect of a complete energy turn-around, especially in rural areas or former coal-mining regions. Political regulation is in constant flux due to the fear of losing competitive advantages, forfeiting economic prosperity and losing votes. Political support and leadership for clean energy transitions is waning.
At the same time, energy start-ups are testing and expanding their innovative business models. There is increasing belief in the possibility and economic feasibility of decentralizing energy management through smart applications in homes and neighborhoods. Incumbent energy industries are increasingly partnering with small energy entrepreneurs and expanding their expertise in the digital high-tech sphere. Home owners and increasingly also renters are benefitting from renewable energy technologies and building their own capacities in a formerly unknown area.
In short, the future pathways of renewable energy transitions are being imagined and implemented in very different and in part contradictory ways. This conference therefore asks: What can we expect of energy futures?