Toward Deep-Decarbonization: an Energy-Service System Framework


Purpose of Review

This paper reviews the historical and applied literature on energy transitions from an integrated system-level framework. We synthesize the literature using a simple energy-service system framework to highlight the main problems and possible pathways for a transition to a decarbonized energy system.

Recent Findings

Recent literature suggests that the combination of demand-pull and technology-push policy instruments will be necessary to tip markets in favor of low-carbon energy alternatives. These studies illustrate that complex feedback mechanisms between the different components of an energy system, such as lock-in and push-back, complicate prescriptive policy design.


The transition to a decarbonized energy system is one of the most pressing problems facing modern society. Energy systems are complex systems with many layers of feedback between social, technical, and institutional systems. Given these complexities, policy design and analysis must evolve to incorporate these feedbacks more explicitly.

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Fig. 1


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: •Of importance ••Of major importance

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Correspondence to Christopher Blackburn.

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Blackburn, C., Harding, A. & Moreno-Cruz, J. Toward Deep-Decarbonization: an Energy-Service System Framework. Curr Sustainable Renewable Energy Rep 4, 181–190 (2017).

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  • Deep-decarbonization
  • Energy transition
  • Path dependency
  • Multi-level perspective
  • Energy-economy models
  • Energy economics