The socio-political merit order

Developing energy strategies that can be rapidly deployed

Published: 19/04/2018

Today, almost all energy modelling is based on least-cost optimisation. While least-cost modelling limits the burden to financial resources, it also limits itself to a certain set of solutions and technologies. Yet some options and technologies resonate better than others—in society and in policymaking.

Given the fact that a rapid transition to a low carbon energy system is necessary, there is a strong push for options and technologies that are well accepted by citizens, companies, nongovernmental organisations, and policymakers. Alternatives that are subjectively most preferred are likely to gain the most momentum, and are thus most likely to make a difference over the next 2-3 decades.

In this paper, Ecofys, a Navigant company, introduces a “socio-political merit order” for developing energy strategies. This socio-political merit order is defined as a set of societal and political preferences of differing intensity (e.g. financial cost, environmental impact, employment effect, perceived risk and trust). The challenge lies in interpreting its individual components and determining the socio-political merit order correctly.

As a dynamic concept which may vary over time or from country to country, the social-political merit order could play a vital role in advancing energy and climate visions and strategies.

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Kornelis Blok
Jan Cihlar
Sustainable Industries and Services