Johan Liliestam's Doctoral Program reflections

January 22, 2014

I studied at the master’s program, "Problem solving in science" with a focus on environmental science at Göteborg University, Sweden (Degree: Master of Science in Environmental sciences and Physics, in May 2005), as well as at the master’s program, "Public and private environmental management" at Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany (Degree: Master of Arts in Environmental Political Science, in October 2007). Before joining the doctoral program at CEU in November 2010, I worked at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Potsdam, Germany, (from November 2007-today) and at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria (from November 2009-today). At both institutes I work with policy issues and risks concerning renewable electricity imports to Europe from North Africa and the Middle East.

I was attracted to the program and CEU especially because I had met my supervisor at conferences and had gotten to know some of his work. I wanted to be a part of that, and to learn what I could from him. So far, I have had a very good impression of the program, both of the regular course work and, especially, of the dissertation supervision. However, it is difficult to not live in Budapest, as you lose most of the contact with the institute, except for the regular contact and exchanges with the supervisor. This, together with the general stress of writing a dissertation, have been the largest challenges encountered so far.

 In my dissertation work, I focus on developing new methods and epistemological approaches to better understand and measure energy security in scenarios for the future, in particular for scenarios with imports of renewable electricity. In this, I draw on theories and concepts from outside the traditional energy security research field, as well as on concepts used primarily in niches of energy security research. The overarching idea is to focus on observed energy security concerns and to assess these using new metrics that are closer connected to the threats one wants to measure in a particular context, instead of the more traditional generic metrics. By doing this, I hope to contribute both to the specific understanding of risks concerning renewable electricity imports and the more general epistemological background to energy security research and its link to decarbonisation scenarios: only secure energy futures are acceptable choices, and thus we must ensure that the decarbonisation pathways are secure as well as climate-friendly.