Energy—from its production to distribution to consumption— has become, in part, a vital centerpiece in which contemporary societies re-order themselves and their institutions across local, national, and international scales. These new re-orderings stem largely from the role and contribution of energy’s traditional and most known fuel source, fossil fuels, to pollution and emissions that are driving global environmental, health, and societal threats. The processes by which fossil fuel energy—and its replacement—is produced, distributed, and consumed, therefore, will have large-scale implications in and for the future. Such future would, indisputably, be fraught with tensions, trade-offs, and contestations considering that multiple forces, values, and interests are socially and politically intertwined in these processes. Multilateral arrangements to curtail future emissions from energy sources, such as those provided in the Paris Agreement, for example, will have future implications in terms of expanding sustainable energy systems. Fossil fuel incumbents, meanwhile, will most likely strive to protect their interests to remain viable. Given these polarities, the future of energy will be envisaged, navigated, and settled in multiple ways and approaches; hence, opening up new challenges both in ways ‘energy’ is conceptually, theoretically, and empirically examined and studied in the future, and practically in terms of designing new policy, market, and governance infrastructure, devices, and interventions that meet the needs of these highly contested futures.

This special issue seeks to produce a collection of latest and original interdisciplinary papers on both ‘the future of energy,’ and ‘energy and the future’ that consider these emergent and crucial contemporary situations and developments. The collection aims to highlight plausible and multiple energy futures based on new and emerging directions for energy production, distribution and networks, consumption, and policy and governance. The collection also aims to focus on the critical assessment of the future synergies, trade-offs, and tensions among issues of energy resource supply and demand, environmental sustainability and climate change, access, innovation, strategy, security, decision-making, justice and fairness, markets, and institutional arrangements on local, national, and international levels.

We seek policy, conceptual, theoretical, and empirical paper contributions from researchers whose work are clearly focused on the issues of temporality and futurity of energy that spans the themes outlined above (and are enumerated in more details below), and their surrounding controversies. These proposals have to explicitly make the connections between the concepts of ‘the future’ and ‘energy.’ The proposals may emanate from various disciplines, including political science, development studies, environmental management, policy, international relations, ecology, security, public administration, business, science and technology studies, environment, philosophy, sociology, geography, anthropology, economics, and others. In line with the aims and scope of the journal, we especially welcome interdisciplinary, mixed-methods, and/or comparative papers, and encourage proposals from women scholars, and those from minority groups and developing countries.

We anticipate receiving proposals that deal with the following five areas of interest or themes:

·         Future energy transitions: including issues of pace or speed (short-term, mid-term, and longer-range), space or level, and scale (small-scale and large-scale) in the context of both developed and developing countries, with a particular emphasis beyond Europe, which has already been explored in a previous Special Issue (Volume 13), and ways and approaches to mobilise (and sustaining) funding support for future energy transitions;

·         Visions or discourses of ‘energy and the future’: including energy sociotechnical imaginaries, analyses of future actors and potential for change, and future energy publics;

·         Energy modelling and the future: including how future risk and uncertainties are handled or dealt with in energy modelling, integrated assessments, scenarios, and systems analyses;

·         Future governance of energy: including conceptualisations of innovative policy and institutional arrangements and mechanisms, planning, implementation/operations, monitoring, and evaluation that consider existing and future multiple overlapping roles and hierarchies, linkages, and networks; and

·         Ways of thinking about the future of energy: including approaches of knowledge production about the ‘future of energy,’ ‘energy for future generations,’ and ‘energy for the future,’ their processes, contradictions, trade-offs, frictions, and tensions, as well as their negotiations and settlements, which might led to the creation of new interdisciplinary fields.

About 3 to 5 papers per theme will be selected for this special issue. Depending on available resources, some or all authors will be invited to present their manuscripts at a writing workshop at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future at Boston University in April 2017 (dates to be confirmed). The workshop will provide a venue for authors to comment on each other’s papers. Travel funds will be available to presenting authors. After the workshop, papers will be subjected to regular review process.

Abstract submissions

To submit proposals, interested authors should send their 500-word abstracts, succinctly describing the work’s rationale, methods, and key results, and clearly identifying which of the five themes their paper fits, alongside their short biographies and full contact information by email to Laurence L. Delina ( by 1 January 2017. Applicants will be notified of the outcome by 1 February 2017. Full papers of up to 10,000 words, including notes and references, are due on 1 March 2017.

Important dates

Proposal submission: 1 January 2017

Decision on proposals: 1 February 2017

First draft manuscript submission: 1 March 2017

Writing workshop in Boston: April 2017 (dates to be confirmed)

Second draft manuscript submission: 1 May 2017

Final manuscripts due: 1 August 2017

Publication with ERSS: Vol 32 October 2017

Energy Research & Social Science (ERSS) is a fully peer-reviewed international journal that publishes original research and review articles examining the relationship between energy systems and society. ERSS welcomes research from those trained in the social sciences, including anthropology, geography, economics, political science, public policy, law, sociology, history, communication studies, and philosophy, as well as interdisciplinary work from engineers, psychologists, and others, as long as the focus is on society and energy. For more on the aims and goals of the journal and for detailed instructions for authors, see