Participatory repertoires for aligning policy and society : An analysis of Dutch stakeholder views on deep geothermal energy

Metze, Tamara A.P.; van den Broek, Jos; van Est, Rinie; Cuppen, Eefje H.W.J.


In a transition to a sustainable energy system, governmental actors initiate participatory processes to gain better insights in questions and concerns of stakeholders, or to create support for decisions. Those participatory activities are embedded in institutionalized and formal decision making procedures. Participatory approaches promise to function as alignment mechanisms between those policies and society. The aim of this paper is to contribute to more successful alignment mechanisms. Based on a thematic analysis of 18 interviews and approximately one hundred policy documents, we relate stakeholders' uncertainties about ultra-deep geothermal energy to their preferred modes of participation. These stakeholders were (in)directly involved in the Dutch Green Deal program, in this case the Green Deal Geothermal Energy in the province North Brabant. Based on the analysis, we identify four participatory storylines and develop a more systemic view on different participatory activities: ‘participatory repertoires’. We conclude that unproductive power-politics between different political-administrative levels, and emerging local and wider publics that hamper alignments, may be prevented. This can be done by prioritizing societal dialogue on normative uncertainties in a range of combinations with local dialogue on normative, conceptual uncertainties, and with national or local joint fact finding on informational uncertainties.