To facilitate energy transition, in several countries regulators have devised ‘regulatory sandboxes’ to create a participatory experimentation environment for exploring revision of energy law. These sandboxes allow for a two-way regulatory dialogue between an experimenter and an approachable regulator to innovate regulation and enable new socio-technical arrangements.
We focus on the Dutch Energy Experimentation Decree (EED) that invites homeowners’ associations and energy cooperatives to propose projects prohibited by extant regulation. In order to localize, democratize and decentralize energy provision, local experimenters can, for instance, organise peer-to-peer supply and determine their own tariffs for energy transport.
However, these experiments do not take place in a vacuum but need to be formulated and implemented in a multi-actor, polycentric decision-making system through collaboration with the regulator but also energy sector incumbents such as the distribution system operator. We are, therefore, especially interested in new roles and power division changes in the energy sector as a result of the Decree. Our central question is: What can be learnt from the EED about the use of regulatory sandboxes for facilitating bottom-up, participatory innovation in the energy system?
Theoretically, we rely on Ostrom’s concept of “polycentric governance” to study the dynamics between actors involved in and engaging with the participatory experiments. Empirically, we examine 14 approved energy experiments through interviews and document analysis. Our conclusions will focus on the potential and limitations of a regulatory sandbox for participatory innovation in a polycentric system, and especially on democratization of legal innovation in the studied context.
|Status||Unpublished - 2019|