High tension electricity: new multi-scale complexities in the electricity system

Bompard, Ettore; Masera, Marcelo and Nuttall, William J. (2015). High tension electricity: new multi-scale complexities in the electricity system. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 96 pp. 327–333.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2014.07.006


Electricity used to be dull, rightly perceived to be a utility industry led by large safe companies, but those days may soon be gone. In Germany a radical change has been initiated, being a bold step for both policy makers and society. Known as the “Energiewende” the transition is to an electricity system mainly shaped by the needs and interests of those developing (and willing to consume) renewable energy. The German approach is not favouring large established energy companies, rather it is empowering individual small consumers to become electricity producers, or “prosumers” in the jargon. So radical is the German approach that well established energy companies are finding their businesses badly weakened [1]. While Germany arguably provides an extreme example, similar changes are underway around the world. Energy economists and technologists are struggling to keep up. We posit that the electricity system must be seen afresh as a complex system amenable to analysis using techniques from complexity science.

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