Jelena Stankovic

Managing scarcity – Oil and solar energy

History department, Maastricht University, [email protected]

Supervisors: Prof. Cyrus Mody, dr. Jacob Ward


The candidate holds a Bachelor in History and Masters in Contemporary History with Honors from Faculty of Philosophy, University of Niš, Serbia; Master thesis: “The Creation of the European Union”

The candidate also holds a Master of Arts in European Studies on Society, Science and Technology from Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University; Specialization: Science and Public Policy; Master thesis: “Obduracy in parking policy. Is there a way out?” Case study of Maastricht.

Summary of PhD project

The oil companies, as one of the energy regime carriers, have recently started rebranding their business from oil and gas into energy transition companies, and are considering larger investments and commitment to alternative energy sources.

It would not be the first time that social practices and debates over oil scarcity have led the companies to explore the possibilities of renewables. During the energy crisis in the 1970s and 1980s the oil firms faced a similar dilemma, and applied similar approach-reconsidering business strategies and probing the new emerging niche of solar. However, many firms seemed to abandon this path in the 1980s leaving the big question mark on the reasons for engagement with renewables.

In this project I take historical approach when looking at the facilitating or hindering role of oil firms in upscaling solar energy, and (alternative) energy transition. More specifically I look at the engagement of oil companies with solar energy and ask the following question: how and why many oil firms engaged with solar and later disengaged from these projects, and how the nature of this relationship unfolds in relation to energy transition?

Methodologically, this qualitative research will investigate Big and medium size oil companies and their engagement in different solar ‘projects.’ I aim to unpack the context within which hindering or contributing factor of oil firms to the energy transition unfolds.

Theoretically, this project adopts but also critically reflects on the Multi-Level perspective to sustainability transition, as complex relationship between incumbents-oil firms, and innovation-solar/PV challenges the classical MLP framework.


Stankovic, J., Dijk, M. & Hommels, A., (May 2020), Upscaling, obduracy and underground parking in Maastricht (1965-present): is there a way out?, Journal of Urban History.