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International Handbook on the Economics of Energy

Edited by Joanne Evans and Lester C. Hunt

As an essential component for economic growth, energy has a significant impact on the global economy. The need to meet growing energy demand has prompted cutting-edge innovation in clean technology in an attempt to realise environmental and cost objectives, whilst ensuring the security of energy supply. This Handbook offers a comprehensive review of the economics of energy, including contributions from a distinguished array of international specialists. It provides a thorough discussion of the major research issues in this topical field of economics.
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Chapter 32: Energy visions to address energy security and climate change

Christoph W. Frei


Christoph W. Frei 1 Introduction Energy policy varies along national boundaries reflecting energy use and social concern. Technological innovation in energy is therefore often linked to social innovation and consequently energy policy is a form of social action. Different stakeholders have specific interests and visions to contribute to the debate about the path ahead. There are many approaches to energy policy formation. When defining strategies to achieve a climate-friendly energy future, the ideal types concept described by Weber (1947, 1949) is informative and therefore used as the basis for this analysis. As a social action, energy policy needs to be understood at the level of individual behaviors and underlying motivations. Weber classified social behaviors according to four ‘ideal types’: the individual acts in accordance with a rational goal; by conviction (faith, ideology, ethical values); guided by a great emotion or passion; or by custom or habit. Weber used ideal types as a tool in the context of political science to identify types of government, depending on their type of legitimacy (charismatic authority, traditional authority, rational and legal authority). The ideal types concept helps the understanding and interpretation of social behavior of individuals participating in a given social action. To advance our comprehension of the feasibility of energy policies and formulate meaningful strategies, arguably a thorough understanding of the different interest groups’ vision ideal types is important. Vision ideal types may be used to test the robustness of energy policies. Before setting out different energy vision ideal types, the two issues...

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