UCL Energy Institute


A review of socio-technical energy transition (STET) models


1 November 2015

Many existing technical feasibility and modelling studies in the energy field are criticised for their limited treatment of societal actors and socio-political dynamics, poor representation of the co-evolving nature of society and technology, and hence an inability to analyse socio-technical change. At the same time, prominent conceptual frameworks of socio-technical transitions that address these elements are often found to be difficult to operationalize in quantitative energy analyses that meet policy development requirements. However a new energy modelling paradigm has started to emerge for integrating both quantitative modelling and conceptual socio-technical transitions. This paper provides a taxonomy for this new model category: 'socio-technical energy transition' (STET) models. A review of existing STET models and their applications to the energy supply, buildings and transport sectors is provided. Following this review, the paper reflects on the extent to which these existing quantitative models captured the variety of factors covered in socio-technical transitions theory, highlights the challenges associated with their theoretical and behavioural validation, and proposes future development priorities for STET models.

A review of socio-technical energy transition (STET) models. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 100 290-305. 

Li, F.G.N., Trutnevyte, E., Strachan, N. (2015). 

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