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Energy Security and Energy Transition: Securitisation in the Electricity Sector

  • Kacper Szulecki
  • Julia Kusznir
Chapter
Part of the Energy, Climate and the Environment book series (ECE)

Abstract

The chapter looks at the electricity sector, which is very rarely the object of interest in Security Studies and political science, despite its clear importance as a vital energy sector sustaining vital functions and values of (post)modern societies. We trace security debates in two sub-sectors—renewables and nuclear energy and in two neighbouring countries, Germany and Poland. Germany is often lauded as the frontrunner of an energy transition while Poland—perceived as a carbon-locked in veto payer in European decarbonisation. We show that energy security discourses play a role in informing policy choices, and certainly lead to that kind of divergent rhetoric, but in reality the two countries share a commitment to coal at least in the medium term. In Poland, renewables are often framed as a threat for the electricity system. The German debate, less securitised, seems to be closer to the “objective” systemic vulnerabilities, whereas in Poland the major vulnerability of the power sector—weak and inadequate g rid—remains a non-issue. An instrumental use of securitisation and security jargon is visible among pro-renewable environmental activist in both countries, who mimic the securitising moves known from the gas sector to portray renewables as a solution to national security problems. In the nuclear sector we also find a strong example of a successful and full securitising move, with the announcement of the nuclear project as a national security issue, followed by proposed and implemented extra-ordinary measures. We find that politicians are more prone to use and accept security jargon, while technical experts in energy are most active in de- securitisation, even of such serious and problematic issues as uncontrolled electricity flows. The more international the energy issue, the more likely it is to see spill-overs from foreign policy and securitising moves drawing on a broader “security imagi nary.”

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kacper Szulecki
    • 1
  • Julia Kusznir
    • 2
  1. 1.University of OsloOsloNorway
  2. 2.Jacobs UniversityBremenGermany

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