Institut for Forretningsudvikling og Teknologi

Benjamin Sovacool

Distinguished professor

Benjamin Sovacool


Dr. Benjamin K. Sovacool is University Distinguished Professor of Business and Social Sciences at Aarhus University (Århus Universitet) in Denmark.  He is also a Professor of Energy Policy at the University of Sussex Business School in the United Kingdom  He received his PhD in science and technology studies from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University in Blacksburg, Virginia, where he also won the “Outstanding Dissertation of the Year” award from the College of Social Sciences and Humanities. 

Professor Sovacool works as a researcher and consultant on issues pertaining to climate change mitigation and adaptation.  More specifically, his research focuses on renewable energy and energy efficiency, the politics of large-scale energy infrastructure, designing public policy to improve energy security and access to electricity, and building adaptive capacity to the consequences of climate change.  His latest research investigates issues of energy justice and vulnerability in low-carbon transitions, and the sociotechnical dynamics of negative emissions technologies, carbon dioxide removal, and greenhouse gas removal, as well as geoengineering and solar radiation management. 

The Centre for Energy Technologies (CET), which he helps lead, is an independent research center at Aarhus University that focuses on the development of new and innovative energy systems for businesses and consumers, primarily in the areas of electricity, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and hydrogen.  Energy companies that CET has worked with so far include Siemens Gamesa on wind energy, energy storage, and hydrogen fuel cells, Vestas on the recycling and improved lifecycle efficiency of wind turbines, Ørsted (formerly DONG Energy) on offshore wind energy assessments, Scanenergi on the smart grid and expanding their business opportunities in the electricity sector, and Energimidt on solar photovoltaics, among others. CET is also supporting a number of Jutland municipalities implementing innovative energy systems to help them meet Denmark’s low carbon goals.

Professor Sovacool is leading a major €9.1 million project funded by the European Research Council called “GeoEngineering and NegatIve Emissions pathways in Europe (GENIE).”  The most recent UN climate agreement aims to keep global temperature rise well below 2 °C. To achieve this target, negative emissions technologies such as greenhouse gas removal (GGR) are critically important since they can capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and store it safely. Another significant technology is solar radiation management (SRM), a type of climate engineering in which sunlight is reflected to limit or reverse global warming. The research team of the GENIE project, funded by an ERC Synergy Grant, aims to identify how, where, and when to use these technologies effectively. The intention is to generate a robust, scientific assessment for evidence-based policymaking. Most research on GGR and SRM addresses techno-economic aspects and rarely their social, legal, political and even ethical dimensions. The new project will address this gap, and provide an urgently needed interdisciplinary and holistic perspective of these technologies, in order to understand whether and how they could be deployed at the required scale to solve the problem.  

At both Aarhus University and the University of Sussex, Professor Sovacool teaches classes on research and writing methods, global energy security, renewable energy and alternative fuels, environmental economics and markets, energy policy, global energy justice, and sustainability.  He is the founding editor-in-chief of Energy Research &Social Science (published by Elsevier).  He also serves on the editorial board of Sustainability Science (Springer) and Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change (Springer), as well as the editorial advisory board of Nature Energy, and sits as a reader for Oxford University Press, MIT Press, Palgrave MacMillan Press, Routledge Press, and Wiley-Blackwell Press. 

Professor Sovacool is also the author of hundreds of refereed articles, book chapters, and reports and the author, coauthor, editor, or coeditor of 22 books on energy and climate change topics. His books have been endorsed by U.S. President Bill Clinton, the Prime Minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland, and the late Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom, among others.  Although his primary area of expertise is energy policy, he has also published in the fields of astronomy, bioethics, business and innovation, chemical engineering, environmental law, epidemiology, fisheries, forest management, geography, governance, philosophy and ethics, political ecology, political economy, political science, public policy and administration, science and technology studies, sociology, and technology transfer.  His opinion editorials have appeared in newspapers such as the Baltimore Sun, Bangkok Post, China Daily, Jakarta Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Straits Times, and the Wall Street Journal, and he has been interviewed by the Associated Press, BBC World News, Bloomberg, CNN, Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, Newsweek International, New Scientist, Reuters, and United Press International, among others. 

In addition, Professor Sovacool has served in research and advisory capacities for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Semiconductor Materials and Equipment International, the Global Environment Facility, the World Bank Group’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Development Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Union of Concerned Scientists, the International Institute for Applied Systems and Analysis (IIASA), the Renewable Energy Network for the Twenty-First Century (REN 21), the International Energy Agency, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).  Moreover, he has consulted for the Asian Development Bank, United Nations Capital Development Fund, United Nations Development Program, and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific on energy poverty, governance, and security issues. 

At the National University of Singapore, he led a series of research projects supported by the MacArthur Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation investigating how to improve energy security for impoverished rural communities throughout Asia, including in-depth assessments of Bangladesh, China, India, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, and Sri Lanka. With a grant from the Singaporean Ministry of Education, he explored how to improve resilience to the impacts of climate change in twelve major metropolitan areas (including cities in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia) in addition to the evaluation of national adaptation projects in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, the Maldives, Nepal, and Vanuatu.  

While in Singapore, he also investigated the politics of large-scale transnational energy megaprojects with grants from the Singaporean Academic Research Council at the Ministry of Education and the Asia Research Institute.  As part of this work, he completed comprehensive assessments of the energy security implications of the $5 billion Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, $40 billion Trans-ASEAN Natural Gas Pipeline Network, $105 billion Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy, and a $400 billion proposal to build a very-large solar array in the Mongolian Gobi Desert.

Before his time in Singapore, Professor Sovacool examined the barriers facing the commercialization and deployment of greenhouse gas reducing technologies in the United States.  In conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Climate Change Technology Program, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Georgia Institute of Technology, he researched the cost-effectiveness of a portfolio of climate change mitigation technologies in addition to the fiscal, regulatory, statutory, and intellectual property barriers that impede their wider adoption.

As a graduate student at Virginia Tech, Professor Sovacool worked on a large grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Electric Power Networks Efficiency and Security Program analyzing the barriers to small-scale renewable electricity sources and distributed generation in the United States. In addition, he assessed the renewable resource potential of Virginia in conjunction with the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.   Furthermore, he was part of a U.S. National Academies of Science team looking at how to displace the use of nuclear power in New York through the use of energy efficiency practices and distributed solar energy, and he received a NSF “Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant” to fund his field research on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

He is the coeditor of Energy and American Society (Springer, 2007), Energy Poverty (Oxford University Press, 2014), and The Palgrave Handbook of the International Political Economy of Energy (Palgrave, 2016). He is the editor, author, or coauthor of The Dirty Energy Dilemma (Praeger, 2008), Powering the Green Economy (2009, Earthscan), The Routledge Handbook of Energy Security (Routledge, 2010), Contesting the Future of Nuclear Power (World Scientific, 2011), Climate Change and Global Energy Security (MIT Press, 2011), The National Politics of Nuclear Power (Routledge, 2012), Energy Access, Poverty, and Development (Ashgate, 2012), The Governance of Energy Megaprojects (Edward Elgar, 2013), Energy and Ethics (Palgrave MacMillan, 2013), Energy Security, Equality, and Justice (Routledge, 2013), Energy Security (Sage, 2013), Global Energy Justice (Cambridge University Press, 2014), Energy, Poverty, and Development (Routledge, 2014), The Political Economy of Climate Change Adaptation (Palgrave, 2015), Fact and Fiction in Global Energy Policy (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016), Vehicle-to-Grid (Palgrave, 2019), Visions of Energy Futures (Routledge, 2019), Empowering the Great Energy Transition (Columbia University Press, 2019), and Global Energy Politics (Polity, 2020).

His books have (as of 2020) been nominated for 30 international prizes, and his Dirty Energy Dilemma won a 2009 Nautilus Silver Award.  Favorable reviews of his books have been published by the American Library Association, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, and the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, in addition to the journals Annals of the Association of American GeographersCivil Engineering; Current ScienceEcological EconomicsElectricity JournalEnergy—The International JournalEnergy for Sustainable DevelopmentEnergy PolicyEnvironmental Research LettersGlobal Environmental Politics; Foreign AffairsInternational AffairsJournal of Policy Analysis and Management; Nature Climate Change; Science; Technological Forecasting and Social Change; and Technology & Culture

In addition, Dr. Sovacool has published in journals such as Annual Review of Environment and Resources (Annual Reviews); Applied Energy (Elsevier); Climate Policy (Taylor & Francis); Climatic Change (Springer); Columbia Journal of Environmental Law (Columbia Law School);  Daedalus (American Academy of Arts & Sciences); Ecological Economics (Elsevier); Electricity Journal (Elsevier); Energy (Elsevier); Energy & Environmental Science (Royal Society of Chemistry); Energy Economics (Elsevier); Energy Efficiency (Springer); Energy for Sustainable Development (Elsevier); Energy Law Journal (Energy Bar Association); Energy Policy (Elsevier); Energy Strategy Reviews (Elsevier); Environment (Taylor & Francis); Environmental Science & Policy (Elsevier); Environmental Science & Technology (American Chemical Society); Foreign Policy (Washington Post Company); Global Environmental Change (Elsevier); Global Environmental Politics (Elsevier); Journal of Cleaner Production (Elsevier); Journal of Environmental Law (Oxford Journals); Journal of Environmental Management (Elsevier); Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (Society for Social Medicine); Land Use Policy (Elsevier); Nature (Nature Publishing Group); Nature Climate Change (Nature Publishing Group); Nature Energy (Nature Publishing Group); New York University Environmental Law Journal (New York University School of Law); Pacific Affairs (University of British Columbia); Pacific Review (Taylor & Francis);Policy Sciences (Springer); Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews (Elsevier); Renewable Energy (Elsevier); Review of International Studies (Cambridge Journals); Science (American Association for the Advancement of Science); Social Studies of Science (Sage); Society & Natural Resources (Taylor & Francis); Stanford Environmental Law Journal (Stanford Law School); Science, Technology, & Human Values (Sage); Technological Forecasting & Social Change (Elsevier); Technology & Culture (Johns Hopkins University Press); Transport Policy (Elsevier); Transportation Research Part A (Elsevier); and Transportation Research Part D (Elsevier). 

He has reviewed grant proposals in energy management, energy policy, climate change, renewable energy, and science and technology studies for the U.S. National Science Foundation, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Economic & Social Research Council of the United Kingdom, Swiss State Secretariat for Education and Research, the Swiss National Science Foundation, European Commission, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Estonian Research Council, and the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics in Nepal.  

Furthermore, he is a peer-reviewer for 40 journals including the Annals of Nuclear Energy (Elsevier); Climate Policy (Taylor & Francis); Energy Economics (Elsevier); Environmental Politics (Taylor & Francis); Environmental Science & Technology (American Chemical Society); Global Environmental Change (Elsevier); Global Policy (Wiley Blackwell); Nature (Nature Publishing Group); Nature Climate Change (Nature Publishing Group); Nature Communications (Nature Publishing Group); Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (National Academy of Sciences); Public Administration Review (Wiley Blackwell); Regulation & Governance (Wiley Blackwell); Science (American Association for the Advancement of Science); Science and Engineering Ethics (Springer); Science and Public Policy (Oxford Journals); Social Studies of Science (Sage); and Transportation Research Part C (Elsevier).

Dr. Sovacool has presented research at more than 220 international conferences and symposia in 48 countries.  These have included keynote addresses to the European Utility Week, Low Carbon Energy for Development Network, and the International Conference on Energy Research & Social Science, among others, in addition to invited seminars at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington DC, the United Nations headquarters in New York, Cambridge University, Duke University, Princeton University, the Royal Society in London, Yale University, the University of Tokyo, and various World Renewable Energy Congresses. Professor Sovacool has submitted analysis and testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, U.S. Supreme Court, the U.K House of Commons and U.K. House of Lords (among others).

His e-mail address is  

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