Science, Policy and Societal Needs: Renewable Energy Research in Portugal

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Hörsaal 48 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Luis JUNQUEIRA, Instituto de Ciencias Sociais - Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal
Over the last decade, Portugal promoted an ambitious plan to foster the growth of renewable energy technologies in its energy system. The program was largely successful, with wind power going from a residual presence to being the second source of electrical production in the course of ten years. The goals for deployment were accompanied by an increasing prominence of the role of research and development in energy policy and a political discourse centered on the opportunity for the country to take a lead technological role in the development of renewable energies. This was also a period of growing investment in the national R&D system, with a steep increase in human resources and competitive funding opportunities, and of reconfiguration of academic activity, promoting a tighter interconnection between universities and the private sector.

The favorable political climate allowed for a consolidation of this area of research with the formation of new R&D units, research groups and graduate programmes, as well as an increase in R&D expenditure in the private sector. Given the centrality of energy issues in contemporary societies and the part renewable energies have to play in the future of energy systems, renewable energies present an opportunity to explore the changing dynamics between policy, private sector and scientific research. This presentation proposes to add to this discussion by drawing on a diverse set of data sources encompassing policy documents, official statistical data, bibliographic and project databases, and interviews with researchers.

This presentation is based on the work developed for the PhD programme in Sociology, in progress at the Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon and funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).