The energy transition: Democracy, justice and good regulation of the heat market

Saskia Lavrijssen, Blanka Vitez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
149 Downloads (Pure)


This paper discusses whether the concepts of energy democracy, energy justice and the principles of good market regulation could play a role in developing a more consistent approach towards the regulation of the energy sector. It is concluded that the principles of good regulation can provide a useful framework within which advantages and disadvantages can be weighed of regulatory choices to be made when modernizing the regulation of the energy markets. A case study of the Dutch heat market is used as an example, showing that a lot remains to be gained in terms of flexible regulation and supervision and the facilitation of citizen participation. Both energy democracy and energy justice call for this. The lack of flexibility in the current regulatory framework could lead to ineffective and disproportionate regulation, hindering a sustainable, reliable and affordable development of the heat market. A larger need for flexibility is justified because of the differences between the types of heat networks. Customized solutions regarding unbundling and third-party access, including the modernization of the heat market, also require sufficient discretionary powers for the independent regulator that do not hinder but in fact stimulate the development of the heat market. Furthermore, increased citizen-participation is important in light of energy justice and energy democracy, which are energy specific concepts that overarch the principles of good regulation in the energy sector. Both concepts are based on the awareness that the energy transition is a matter for all citizens of the European Union and should not be ignored by policymakers and independent regulators. Since it is likely that most heat consumers will remain locked in for a relatively long time in natural monopolies facilitated by older generation heat networks and a lack of alternatives, substantive citizen-participation could yield positive results regarding community engagement in heat network management and heat supply
Original languageEnglish
Article number1088
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2020


  • energy justice, good governance, heat market


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