Energy Transition on St Helena Island: A system dynamics approach

Daniela N Schamroth Rossade, Aydin Nassehi, Sam Williamson

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This paper uses a system dynamics approach to explore low carbon energy transition on St Helena (SH) Island, identifying dominant system behaviors and opportunities for sustainable development. The British overseas territory is geographically remote and electrically isolated, making it an interesting, well-bounded case study. SH government wants to transition to renewable energy but financing investment in new systems will be challenging as import costs are high and their economy is stagnant, not yet recovered from the effects of the pandemic. Affordable energy would have a big impact on local businesses and increase consumer spending, boosting the economy.
Qualitative data is collected through semi-structured interviews with energy stakeholders that explore how the current energy provision impacts the island and possible effects of future development plans. Transcripts from these interviews are coded to extract causal relationships and synthesized to develop a causal loop diagram (CLD) of island energy behaviors. This model undergoes methodical simplification to identify dominant behaviors and explore how system behaviors can support energy transition in the interest of the whole island. In this case, it is observed that public planned energy systems are an opportunity for more positive impact on the whole island than private systems. Analysis also highlights how strongly consumer energy costs affect the rest of the system and thereby indicates which stakeholder groups need to be included in decision-making processes. In some areas where the polarity of behavioral links was disputed, a basic systems archetypes study demonstrates the importance of effective communication and transparent decision-making to prevent initiation of unfavorable dynamics. Authors hope the clearly demonstrated methods offer a useful example of how this approach can offer useful insights into complex system problems.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2023
Event2023 International System Dynamics Conference - Chicago
Duration: 23 Jul 202327 Jul 2023


Conference2023 International System Dynamics Conference
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