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Benefits and challenges of participatory methods in qualitative energy scenario development

Anna Ernst, Klaus H. Biß, Hawal Shamon, Diana Schumann and Heidi U. Heinrichs

Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 2018, vol. 127, issue C, 245-257

Abstract: Energy scenarios are a tool for exploring possible future developments or states of energy systems. However, traditional energy scenarios mainly concentrate on technological feasibility and economic impacts and lack consideration of social feasibility. Participatory methods, meaning the involvement of external scientists and stakeholders in the scenario development process, can integrate different types of knowledge, perspectives, and values to improve energy scenario development. This paper reports on an approach which is deduced from the strengths and weaknesses of current research applying participatory methods to generate qualitative scenarios. Three different participatory methods - envisioning storylines, futures wheel, and evaluation of narratives - are combined in order to balance the strengths and weaknesses of each of them to create transparent, plausible qualitative scenarios without predisposition. At these three workshops, a total of 25 external and eleven internal participants discussed future developments of the German energy transformation (Energiewende). The paper examines whether this approach overcomes the limitations of current approaches and is ultimately suitable for improving energy scenarios. The findings suggest that a combination of different participatory methods and also a variety of participants help to overcome bias, explore different future pathways in depth, and distinguish between certain and uncertain developments.

Keywords: Qualitative energy scenarios; Participatory scenario methods; Energy transition; Envisioning; Storytelling; Scientific knowledge production (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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