Analyzing past and future energy industry contractions: Towards a better understanding of the flip-side of energy transitions
Research Project, 2017 – 2021

Meeting the 2°C climate target requires a massive transformation of energy systems involving both the growth of "new" technologies (e.g. wind power) and phase-out of "old" ones (e.g. use of coal). But closing down energy industries is a painful socio-political process that can lead to job losses, economic difficulties, and political tensions. Even in Germany, with its ambitious climate strategies, attempts to close coal mines are facing public protests. However, much more scientific effort has gone into researching the expansion of new energy technologies than the phase-out of "old" ones.

This project closes this research gap by identifying and quantifying historical cases of energy industry contractions as well as their socio-political preconditions and implications. How frequently and under what conditions do energy industries contract? What types of policies make energy industry contractions less painful? We will also quantify contraction rates in future energy scenarios, including those under climate policies. How do these projected rates of contraction compare to historical precedents? Is the required contraction realistic? How can it be made less painful?


Jessica Jewell (contact)

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Physical Resource Theory



Bergen, Norway

University of Bergen

Bergen, Norway


The research council of Norway

Project ID: 267528/E10
Funding Chalmers participation during 2019–2021

Related Areas of Advance and Infrastructure

Sustainable development

Driving Forces


Areas of Advance



Prospects for powering past coal

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