Stakeholder engagement has become increasingly important in energy research and is now even required by many funding agencies. Recent energy modelling projects also claim to involve stakeholders in the research process, although this is usually a process of one-way communication. This raises the question of the extent to which stakeholder involvement can have an impact on the modelling work, or whether it is often a case of mere ‘stakeholder-washing’ to meet funding requirements. In this discussion paper, I reflect on the experiences of stakeholder engagement in the EU Horizon 2020 project Sustainable Energy Transition Laboratory (SENTINEL), discuss the impacts of stakeholder participation on the energy modelling and unfold key challenges of involving stakeholders in energy modelling. I discuss that it worked well to engage stakeholders in defining user needs and discussing modelling results, while only a few stakeholders could be continuously involved through the project period. I also show that although the project successfully identified research questions and needs, the ability of models to answer questions was limited, and making models understandable to users remains a key challenge. Stakeholder engagement in SENTINEL was more than ‘stakeholder-washing’: it led to the identification of user needs and research questions, impacted scenario design, modelling improvements and the development of new modelling tools, and enabled critical reflection on modelling approaches and results. Finally, I make nine recommendations for future stakeholder engagement in energy (modelling) research that can enable mutual learning and enhance the legitimacy, relevance and impact of modelling. The further development of multi-stakeholder communities of practice around innovative energy modelling approaches can facilitate the transition to climate neutrality.
- Publication Year
- Publication Type
- RIFS Discussion Papers and RIFS Working Papers
Süsser, D. (2023). Is it more than “stakeholder-washing”? Reflections on stakeholder engagement in the SENTINEL energy modelling project and recommendations for future transdisciplinary research. RIFS Discussion Paper, February 2023.
- Projects involved
- The Sustainable Energy Transition Laboratory (SENTINEL)