Natascha van Bommel

Transitioning towards a low carbon energy system and its implications on society

Technology, Innovation & Society Group, University of Technology Eindhoven, n.v.bommel@tue.nl

Supervisors: Prof. Floor Alkemade, Dr. Johanna Höffken

Background

I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies (Milieu-maatschappijwetenschappen) from Utrecht University, and a Master’s Degree in Innovation Sciences from Eindhoven University of Technology. The focus during my masters was on global sustainability. As a part of my Master’s Degree I studied at the Faculty of Engineering at Lund University. In my Master thesis, I explored the different rhetoric framings of energy communities in the European policy context.

Summary PhD Project

There is a current urgency to transition to a low-carbon (or zero-carbon) energy system, to mitigate global climate change. While this transition is urgent, there are many possible social impacts of this transition that should be considered. Transitioning towards a low-carbon society can, depending on the route of the transition, have both positive and negative impacts on energy poverty, vulnerable consumers, and social inequalities, to name just a few. These impacts can be very local, for instance merely related to a certain microgrid, but they can also be global, when looking at developing versus developed countries.

In this research project, I will address the social issues and societal implications of the transition towards a low-carbon energy system by analyzing and comparing different case studies, including a demonstration site in Belgium, in Italy and in India. These demonstration sites are part of a European Horizon 2020 project called MUSE grids. At these demonstration sites, smart energy system infrastructures are tested, and energy communities are being created.

I will make use of mixed methods to analyze the social issues and societal implications of the transition towards a low carbon society. This entails that I will make use of observations and in-depth interviews, among different stakeholders related to the demonstration sites, but also of large-scale surveys.