Keeping an Eye on ReliabilityThe Organizational Requirements of Future Renewable Energy Systems Daniel Scholten


This book proposes a framework to pinpoint the organizational structures required for the reliable operation of future renewable energy infrastructures. To this end it analyses the complex relationship between technology and organization in energy systems and seeks ways to express the technological characteristics of energy systems in terms of their organizational requirements in a simple yet effective manner. The result is a stepwise progression that moves from several critical technical functions and their control mechanisms to the responsibilities and roles that they imply for the entities involved in their operation (i.e. the who does what, when, and how, and the nature of coordination between them), and finally to the organizational structure that may facilitate the latter.

The reliable operation of energy infrastructures is more than just a technical matter. It is also dependent upon the organizational structure that enables and constrains entities in their management of operations. Yet this lesson seems forgotten in our planning of future renewable energy systems. There, focus is on technical development, market deployment, and supporting government policies. Much less attention has been given to the broader organizational requirements necessary to ensure their reliable operation once they are put in place.

The proposed framework is illustrated on the transition to the use of hydrogen as a motor fuel in the Netherlands as depicted by the European Union’s HyWays project. It shows how different technical characteristics of the hydrogen networks envisioned in 2020, 2035, and 2050 require different organizational structures to facilitate reliable operations. In addition, it discusses the implications of neglecting the organizational dimension of reliability in the development of renewable energy systems, such as organizational lock-ins and path dependencies.

Daniel Scholten is assistant professor at the Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, specializing in the institutional requirements and political implications of (future) renewable energy systems. He holds a degree in both political science and international and European relations & management.