Challenges for electricity network governance in whole system change: Insights from energy transition in Norway

Once transitions progress beyond the start-up phase, niche technologies diffuse more widely to generate important knock-on effects in a focal sector. This entails a need for moving beyond niches to embrace a 'whole system perspective'. In the power sector, this perspective puts electricity networks in a more central position. This paper analyses how the governance of power networks is challenged by the energy transition. We integrate insights from network regulation and transition studies to propose a framework for understanding such challenges. With this framework we assess recent regulatory innovations in Norway. The paper shows how the regulatory toolbox can be amended to tackle innovation and transition. The Norwegian case shows that the regulator has taken up the energy transition challenges. It also shows the difficulties of making these new instruments effective, including the tension between a regulatory cost-efficiency focus on the one hand, and transformative change on the other.

Published in:Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, Volume 37, December 2020, Pages 318-331