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1997 …2023

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Personal profile

Research profile

My research focusses on the ethics of governing technological innovations. I take a special interest in technology assessment methods and practices at the science-policy interface , including (but not limitied to) scenario analysis, sustainability assessment, cost-benefit analysis, ethical matrixes and participatory methods. I mainly draw upon the work of Michel Foucault to show the dynamics of power, knowledge and subjectivity at play in these methods and practices. My main empirical domain so far has been energy system governance, in particular in the areas of nuclear energy, nuclear waste management and smart grids/smart energy behaviour. Currently, in the context of the Horizon 2020 project COME RES, I study the governance of energy communities.

Academic background

Erik Laes wrote an interdisciplinary PhD on the sustainability of nuclear power (2006) and holds additional degrees in environmental sciences (1999) and philosophy (MA, 2016). He is currently employed as a postdoctoral researcher working on the ethics of governing energy communities in the EU H2020 project COME RES. From July 2009 – August 2018, he was employed at the Flemish research institute VITO where he was involved in projects concerning energy scenario analysis, sustainability evaluation of energy technology, transition management and smart grids/smart energy users. Over the years, he has engaged in several national or international research projects concerning end-user acceptance and engagement with smart grid technologies (FP7 project S3C, www.s3c-project.eu), public acceptance of renewable heating and cooling technologies (commissioned by the European RHC platform), barriers and opportunities for smart grid business models (commissioned by EASME), etc.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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