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Selected Publication:

Kalt, G; Wiedenhofer, D; Gorg, C; Haberl, H.
(2019): Conceptualizing energy services: A review of energy and well-being along the Energy Service Cascade
ENERGY RES SOC SCI. 2019; 53: 47-58. FullText FullText_BOKU

The concept of energy services is used in different contexts and scientific fields mainly to emphasize that it is the services provided by energy rather than energy carriers that people demand and that generate well-being. While the value of the concept is widely acknowledged, there are remarkable differences in how energy services are conceptualized. This article proposes the 'Energy Service Cascade' (ESC) as a conceptual framework aimed at clarifying and bridging different approaches. The ESC is inspired by Haines-Young's and Potschin's (2011) 'Ecosystem Service Cascade', which distinguishes: a) structures, b) functions, c) services, d) benefits and e) values. When used to systematize the debates around energy services, we argue that these differentiations reflect a) energy conversion chains comprising natural structures, human-made capital and labor; b) physical functions performed by energy chains; c) services humans demand to foster well-being; d) the actual contributions to human well-being (health, life satisfaction,.); e) individual preferences and attitudes that create willingness to pay, encourage business models, etc. 'Values' influence how services and benefits are perceived and affect 'structures' through various mechanisms (investment decisions, environmental and economic policy,.). To showcase the usefulness of the ESC as conceptual framework, we provide a review of literature to reveal the differing scopes of four main contexts in which energy services are being studied. We call them 'energy chain context', 'energy demand context', 'well-being context' and 'entrepreneurial context'. Given the diversity of how energy services are interpreted and the various scopes and research aims, a full harmonization of concepts seems out of reach. Nevertheless, a more unified understanding of what is considered as 'service' and differentiation from 'functions' and 'benefits', as provided by the ESC, could be a first step towards more systematic terminology and may support interaction between the different discourses.
Authors BOKU Wien:
Görg Christoph
Haberl Helmut
Kalt Gerald
Wiedenhofer Dominik
BOKU Gendermonitor:

Find related publications in this database (Keywords)
Energy service
Energy service cascade
Energy chain
End-use service
Sustainability transformation

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