Energy Governance for a Fair Transition

Project Description

To mitigate the effects of climate change, the European Commission created a Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan committing to the creation of 100 Positive Energy Districts (PEDs) across Europe by 2025. The creation of these first 100 PEDs provides an opportunity for researchers to study the policies and incentives that are used in order to influence policy makers and ensure that best practices are encouraged and that later PED creation is optimized.

As we move to decarbonized, decentralized, digitalized, and democratized energy systems there is a clear need for us to tackle growing issues of energy injustices and fuel poverty which at present continue to increase.

The main research question is: What are the main energy justice and wellbeing related elements that need to be accounted for to ensure PED-like areas are part of a just transition? In order to answer this, I use an energy justice framework which is informed by the capabilities approach, and conduct research in PEDs throughout Europe.

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Paul Burger
Co-Supervisor: Dr. Barbara Schmitz, Dr. Annika Sohre


Adam X. Hearn is a PhD student with the University of Basel's Sustainability Research Group as part of the SMART BEEjS (Promoting the Local Fight Against Global Climate Change by Building Efficiency and Energy Justice for Sustainable Living) Horizon2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions.

The project trains 15 PhD students using an innovative doctoral training programme. The training programme incorporates three dimensions: (i) deep training in their individual subjects; (ii) systemic thinking and engagement with the needs of citizens and communities as well as experts from different disciplines promoting the development of Positive Energy Districts (PEDs); and, (iii) reflection of the impact of our research and realisation of opportunities from outcomes for supporting a Human-Centric energy transition.

Adam completed an MA in Medical Anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London, and a BA in Social Anthropology and Sociology.

Recent Publications

Positive energy district stakeholder perceptions and measures for energy vulnerability mitigation
Hearn, A.X., 2022, Applied Energy, 322, p.119477.

Preferences for configurations of Positive Energy Districts–Insights from a discrete choice experiment on Swiss households
Mihailova, D., Schubert, I., Martinez-Cruz, A.L., Hearn, A.X. and Sohre, A., 2022.  Energy Policy163, p.112824.

Towards a Just Energy Transition, Barriers and Opportunities for Positive Energy District Creation in Spain
AX Hearn, R Castaño-Rosa
Sustainability 13 (16), 8698

Innovative but unjust? Analysing the opportunities and justice issues within positive energy districts in Europe
AX Hearn, A Sohre, P Burger
Energy Research & Social Science 78, 102127

Report on “must-read” factors in policy design to tackle energy poverty through PED creation
C. Marggraf, AX Hearn, L. Lamonaca, R. Ackrill, K. Galanakis 2021

Profilbild Adam Hearn

Adam X. Hearn
PhD candidate Smart-BEEjS (ESR)
Phone: +41 61207 6159
Social Sciences Department
Sustainability Research Group
Bernoullistrasse 14-16
4056 Basel