Europe’s sustainable energy transition may depend not so much on alternative options, but on resistance or support by the incumbent energy regime.

Erik van der Vleuten, employee

I study the dynamics of such slowly evolving systems and their societal implications in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Modern society is held together by a variety of large technical systems. Think of energy or water supply, food provision, financial services, or ecological networks. I study the dynamics of such slowly evolving systems and their societal implications in the 20th and 21st centuries. This includes their intrinsic vulnerabilities, which surface in crises such as transnational black-outs, floods, food chain contaminations, financial crashes, or ecological disasters. Next to research and teaching, I love playing in the student indoor soccer competition during the lunch break.

Projects

Infrastructuring Europe
Infrastructure organizations integrated and fragmented Europe with energy, communications and transport networks long before the European Union came into being. Europe’s ‘hidden’ infrastructure integration is poorly known despite its major implications for citizens and companies. It differs from the familiar political integration process. For instance, the entry of Turkey and Morocco into the political Union is heavily contested. Yet both countries cooperate synchronically in Europe’s electric power interdependency. More information: http://www.makingeurope.eu/www/bookseries/from-nature-to-networks-europes-infrastructure-transition-and-its-consequences

Europe goes Critical
On one hand, Europe’s transnational energy, communication, and transport infrastructure made economic and social life less vulnerable. Any power plant failure is immediately counteracted and compensated by other power plants in the system. On the other hand such transnational infrastructure introduced new forms of vulnerability. In the European blackout of 4 November 2006, a power line failure in Northern Germany cascaded through the network as far as Croatia, Italy, Spain and Portugal. Via the Spain-Morocco cable it even closed lights in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Today the European Union tries to counter such disturbances with centralized security management and smart grids. However, by doing so power grids get increasingly vulnerable to ICT failure (which has been known to happen!). This project inquires such paradoxes and ways to make sense of them. More information:  http://www.eurocrit.eu/

Resisting Change
Many policy makers, civil society organizations, and citizens favor a more sustainable energy system. There is no lack of options – from greening conventional power plants and renewable solar, wind, or geothermal power stations to drastic energy saving. And yet, Europe’s sustainable energy transition may depend not so much on alternative options, but on resistance or support by the incumbent energy regime. More information: http://www.sustainabilitytransitions.com/book/energyhttp://www.sustainabilitytransitions.com/book/energy