Claudia R. Binder, Regina Schoell and Monika Popp
Claudia R. Binder, Susan Mühlemeier and Romano Wyss
The transitions occurring in our society, for example, our current energy transition from a fossil-based system to a system based on renewables, are complex and long-term societal transitions, involving not only the technical but also the social and the ecological spheres of the system. The need for a fundamental system transformation raises the question of how to measure the continuing progress and the resilience of this process over time. We present a conceptualization of the resilience of a socio-technical system in transition. Based on the resilience concept in the social-ecological systems literature, we propose to conceptualize resilience for energy systems building on two core system attributes, namely, diversity and connectivity. The analysis of the system based on these key attributes allows for conclusions about the system’s abilities (for example, stability, flexibility or adaptive capacity), which are essential for resilience during a transition. We present an indicator set to operationalize these key attributes in social and technical subsystems using (1) definitions and measurements for three fundamental diversity properties – variety, balance and disparity – and (2) basic connectivity properties from the social network analysis literature – path length, centrality and modularity. Subsequently, we show how this indicator set can be measured, and apply it to regional energy transitions. Finally, we discuss the added value of the approach for sustainability transition research.