Conflict Management

Understanding and managing conflicts about energy technologies

Public controversies and conflicts about innovative technologies are part of technology development. In many European countries and other places around the world, energy technologies—like other technologies—are often confronted with society’s increasing sense unease in relation to science and technology development.

Conflicting interests, value systems and risk perceptions lead to controversies about energy technologies.

Controversies often occur at the local and regional level when it comes to large-scale energy infrastructure such as nuclear power plants, geothermal facilities or high-voltage power grids. The most visible expressions of such controversies are protest camps or demonstrations. However, conflicts can take many other forms. They can last for decades (e.g. the conflict surrounding nuclear power in Germany) and they can have intense, widely visible phases and phases of low intensity that make the conflict invisible. Conflicts evolve and modify over time and may become institutionalized.