Alain Nadaï

Visiting Scholar


Directeur de recherche, CNRS


CIRED (Centre for International Research on Environment and Development)


CIRED, Paris

Geographic Location

Alain Nadaï

Alain Nadaï is a senior interdisciplinary social scientist who has worked for over fifteen years on renewable energy policy and development in France and he EU.  He has been a lead author for the IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN 2011).  He has developed an empirically grounded and conceptually sophisticated critical approach to the current conduct of the energy transition, emphasizing the need for a more democratic appraisal of the development of renewable energies.  His recent research explores questions of democracy associated with the socio technical construction of ‘renewability’ as a quality of new forms of energy and their use in electrification.  Nadaï will lecture on the politics of legitimacy in transitions to renewable energies in democracies.

Primary Recipient Awards

Alain Nadaï – French Scholars Lecture Series – 2020

The political construction of renewable energy resources

The urgent need to prevent the worst effects of climate change and to preserve a habitable earth is widely recognized. The massive shift to non-fossil forms of energy, so-called renewables, confronts us with (new) pulsations of ecosystems (wind speed, solar radiation, ocean currents) and the need to install infrastructure in myriad new environments. This changes our relation to energy and the environment, and raises questions of acceptance in many countries.

The politics underlying the tensions around renewable energy developments are localized, diverse and controversial: they depend on the way in which renewable energy developments are articulated with the actors, territories and environment that are supposed to welcome them.

Dr. Nadai’s lecture will build on case studies of renewable energy developments in France and Germany in order to follow the social and technical process by which parts of our environment are constructed as renewable energy resources. It will discuss on this basis the politics and the democratic dimension of energy transition processes, which ensues.