Innovation, Networks and Energy Governance: The Case of Shale Gas

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GR:EEN Policy Brief 22
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This Policy Brief explores the role of technological innovation in shaping energy governance and how energy governance is being shaped by actors operating in various types of policy networks in the EU. The main aim of this brief is to explore how new technology – in this case the technology making it possible to produce gas and oil from shale deposits – is about to change the situation in the  regional  and  global energy  markets and to  analyse the  impact  of  this  new  technology  on energy governance in the EU and in member states.

The emergence of this new technology has created hopes that the EU as a  whole –or  at least some member states – could reduce their dependence on imports of  gas from abroad,  and especially  from  Russia , which has turned out to be a rather challenging  partner. However,  the question of shale gas has been framed in the European debate in so many ways and seems to be so controversial in a situ ation when the EU  ims to reduce its energy footprint by limiting the use of fossil fuels, that it is still uncertain whether this new technology will make any substantial impact on energy  situation in Europe.  What  complicates the situation  even  further  is the  fact that rumours about  shale gas  abundance  in Europe have  not yet  been  confirmed  and that shale gas therefore remains a more virtual than real commodity.

However, despite the fact that shale gas is still a virtual commodity in Europe, this  technological innovation is about to change energy reality and energy governance in Europe. On the one hand, it is expected that the shale gas revolution that has taken place in the USA can result in the export of gas from the USA, and that some of this export may reach the European gas market. On the other hand, the EU and  member  states  have  to  take  this  new  technological  reality  into consideration when designing and implementing energy and environmental policies in Europe.