The Governance of Energy Megaprojects

The Governance of Energy Megaprojects

Politics, Hubris and Energy Security

Benjamin K. Sovacool and Christopher J. Cooper

Based on extensive original research, this book explores the technical, social, political, and economic dimensions of four Asian energy megaprojects: a regional natural gas pipeline network in Southeast Asia, a series of hydroelectric dams on the island of Borneo, an oil pipeline linking Europe with the Caspian Sea, and a very large solar energy array in the Gobi desert.

Chapter 2: Understanding why energy megaprojects fail

Benjamin K. Sovacool and Christopher J. Cooper

Subjects: economics and finance, regional economics, environment, energy policy and regulation, environmental governance and regulation

Extract

The late biologist Stephen Jay Gould once remarked that how a zebra gets its stripes is a matter of perspective. Predominately Caucasian scientists will argue that it is a white animal with black stripes, proven by its white underbelly. Yet most African people regard it as a black animal with white stripes, proven by the tendency for newly born zebras to be mostly black and grow their stripes later. Gould says that in actuality the Zebra is both white and black, but that one’s cultural background and institutional training will shape perception of it. Like zebras, energy megaprojects mean different things to different stakeholders, and owners and operators can utilize them in different ways to accomplish differing goals. Indeed, the technologies scientists and engineers design and build are seldom value neutral. For example, the keyboard of nineteenth century typewriters, so called “QWERTY” to signify the position of the first six letters, was introduced with the explicit aim of lowering the speed of typing.

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