Energy change raises a host of social and political issues. How are risks associated with existing energy systems, and their alternatives, distributed? Why do some risks capture our collective attention more than others? How best can transformation in the consumption of energy be facilitated?
The ANU School of Sociology hosts a range of projects concerned with the social dimensions of risk and disasters. These include a research program in public safety and security of supply for the Energy Pipelines Cooperative Research Centre. This program addresses distinctly social aspects of risk and safety management including safety incentive schemes, the impact of organizational design on safety practices, and how younger members of the profession view their safety responsibilities.
Several projects have examined major industrial accidents to determine what can be learnt retrospectively about risk management. Examples relevant to energy change include the Montara (Australia) and Deepwater Horizon (US) oilwell blowouts and the San Bruno (US) pipeline explosion.
Effecting change in energy systems is as much about the transformation of consumption as it is the transformation of production and transmission. Major projects address urban sustainability and the greening of food consumption and supply chains.