Decentralized Governance of Energy Systems: Opportunities and Challenges

Tuesday, October 3, 2017 - 15:30 to 15:50
Hub sessions - Energy Revolution Europe - To Centralize or Decentralize, that is the Question

Stream location

Theatre ERE


The transition towards a more decarbonized energy system has led to contentious debate, not only concerning the mix of energy sources to be drawn upon in the future, but also about the configuration of the system itself, with increasing advocacy for a smaller scale, decentralized energy system. My talk will present the economic arguments in favor and against decentralization of governance of energy systems and will show how the concept of “polycentric governance system” can bring novel perspectives into this debate.

Related Information


  1. The presentation of the decentralization theorem (elaborated by the economist W. Oates) and how it applies today to the energy sector
  2. The different advantages of decentralized systems of governance compared to centralized systems (in terms of resilience, innovation capacity, confidence building between actors, etc.)
  3. A certain degree of coordination between decentralized actors is nevertheless necessary (hence, the interest of cooperatives as compared to a totally individualized system). The concept of polycentric system is therefore particularly insightful.
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