Department of Business Development and Technology

Beyond cost and carbon: The multidimensional co-benefits of low carbon transitions in Europe

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  • Benjamin K. Sovacool
  • Mari Martiskainen, Sussex University
  • ,
  • Andrew Hook, Sussex University
  • ,
  • Lucy Baker, Sussex University

The paper explores the myriad potential benefits of four low-carbon transitions beyond those in the environmental or economic domain. Drawn from a rich set of original mixed methods data—across expert interviews, focus groups, and public internet forums—we examine the presumed multidimensional, qualitative co-benefits to nuclear power in France, solar photovoltaics in Germany, electric vehicles in Norway, and smart meters in Great Britain. We catalogue 128 identified prospective co-benefits to these four European low-carbon transitions, 30 for nuclear power, 30 for solar photovoltaic panels, 26 for electric vehicles and 42 for smart meters. Tellingly, 37 of these collective benefits are identified as economic and 14 environmental, but the remaining ones illustrate a broader spectrum of technical benefits (31 in total), social benefits (30 in total) and political benefits (16 in total). After presenting this body of evidence, the paper then discusses these benefits more deeply in terms of complementarity, temporality, scale, actors, and incumbency. We conclude with insights for energy and climate research and policy more broadly.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106529
JournalEcological Economics
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Electric mobility, Energy transitions, Nuclear energy, Smart grids, Solar energy, Sustainability transitions

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ID: 173800529