This chapter focuses on capacities and capacity development for energy transitions. The transitions put forward in GEA require a transformation of energy systems that demand significant changes in the way energy is supplied and used today, irrespective of whether the technologies involved are new to the world or to a country, its producers or users.
Energy transitions are, by definition, long-term, socially embedded processes in the course of which capacities at the individual, organizational, and systems levels, as well as the policies for capacity development themselves, will inevitably change. From this perspective, capacity development can no longer be seen as a simple aggregation of individual skills and competences or the introduction of a new “technology.” Rather, it is a broad process of change in production and consumption patterns, knowledge, skills, organizational forms, and – most importantly – in the established practices and norms of the actors involved, or what are called informal institutions. In other words, a host of new and enhanced capacities will be needed over time. Informal institutions are reflected in a range of beliefs and boundaries that shape choices about new energy technologies. These can include engineering beliefs about what is feasible or worth attempting and boundaries that shape the processes of choice, such as lines of research to pursue, kinds of products to produce, or practices of consultation and dialogue. They also emerge as “path dependence” in contexts where earlier investments result in high sunk costs, habits and practices are entrenched, and “expert views” are shaped by earlier thinking that narrows the range of choices to established technologies and evaluation techniques.
Plate tectonics is the kinematic theory that describes the large-scale motions and events of the outermost shell of the solid Earth in terms of the relative motions and interactions of large, rigid, interlocking fragments of lithosphere called tectonic plates. Plates form and disappear incrementally over time as a result of tectonic processes. There are currently about a dozen major plates on the surface of the Earth, and many minor ones. The present-day configuration of tectonic plates is illustrated inFigure 7.1. As the interlocking plates move relative to each other, they interact at plate boundaries, where adjacent plates collide, diverge, or slide past each other. The interactions of plates result in a variety of observable surface phenomena, including the occurrence of earthquakes and the formation of large-scale surface features such as mountains, sedimentary basins, volcanoes, island arcs, and deep ocean trenches. In turn, the appearance of these phenomena and surface features indicates the location of plate boundaries. For a detailed review of the theory of plate tectonics, consult Wessel and Müller (2007).
A plate-tectonic reconstruction is the calculation of positions and orientations of tectonic plates at an instant in the history of the Earth. The visualization of reconstructions is a valuable tool for understanding the evolution of the systems and processes of the Earth's surface and near subsurface. Geological and geophysical features may be “embedded” in the simulated plates, to be reconstructed along with the plates, enabling a researcher to trace the motions of these features through time.
Mathematics is often seen by learners as a collection of concepts and techniques for solving problems assigned as homework. Learners, especially in cognate disciplines such as engineering, computer science, geography, management, economics, and the social sciences, see mathematics as a toolbox on which they are forced to draw at times in order to pursue their own discipline. They want familiarity and fluency with necessary techniques as tools to get the answers they seek. For them, learning mathematics is seen as a matter of training behaviour sufficiently to be able to perform fluently and competently on tests, and to use mathematics as a tool when necessary.
Unfortunately this pragmatic and tool-based perspective may cut people off from the creative and constructive aspects of mathematics, making it more difficult for them to know when to use mathematics, or to be flexible in their use of it. On its own, this perspective can reinforce a cycle of de-motivation and disinclination. The result is a descending spiral of inattention, minimal investment of energy and time, and absence of appreciation and understanding, leaving learners disempowered from pursuing their discipline through the use of mathematics.
By contrast, mathematicians see mathematics as a domain of creativity and discovery in its articulation, proof, and application. Full appreciation of a mathematical topic includes the exposure of underlying structure as well as the distillation and abstraction of techniques that solve classes of problems, together with component concepts.
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