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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Dynamics of Successful Implementation of Energy Policies: Denmark’s Lessons for Hawaii

Successful implementation of energy policies is a dynamic and proactive process involving a plethora of stakeholders, influences and positions. The process of change can be a key driver that may even be more influential than a specific policy or technology. Development of effective policies is a challenge facing most governments around the world.


The aims of this dissertation are as follows: 1) to analyze Denmark’s history of energy development from the 1970’s; 2) to determine the key dynamics that were essential to Denmark’s successful implementation of energy policies; and 3) identify any universal themes that could be beneficial to a U.S. state launching ambitious renewable energy goals such as the State of Hawaii


Since the oil crisis of the ’70s, Denmark has been one of the few countries to take action and radically shift its energy sources from fossil fuels to renewable sources. This resulted from consistent action in the following major areas: 1) government initiatives & policies; 2) technology developments involving district heating and combined heat & power (CHP) plants; wind power; and grid integration; 3) economic initiatives and 4) public participation.


Denmark’s lessons learned fall within five models previously developed to analyse and explain their successful energy trajectory. These models are: i) choice awareness (Lund, 2000); ii) learning by interacting (Kamp et al., 2004); iii) broad policy arena (Jorgensen, 2005); iv) bottom-up/top-down approach (Lipp, 2007) and v) innovative democracy (Mendonca et al., 2009). These models discuss the importance of an integrated approach involving the key players in an ongoing participatory and equitable process.


This dissertation will distil from these models universal themes or broader applications that are essential to an effective process. These universal themes will be then assembled into a preliminary policy diagram to help visualize this non-linear process of change. Specific recommendations for Hawaii’s early process and future trajectory will then be drawn out of this broad framework.


Finally, this research will provide a commentary on an area underlying the traditional analytical approach. This involves a deeper dynamic of behaviour, addictive consumption, and the resistance to change. There is not much literature discussing this behavioural dynamic which may present a significant barrier to achieving the radical progress being called forth at this time. These final observations are being framed within a context called Eco-Recovery which initiates a different model of change and could be the subject of future research.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.