Shattered frames in global energy governance: Exploring fragmented interpretations among renewable energy institutions

Lisa Sanderink

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


A global transition towards renewable energy is key for a sustainable future, and effective global governance is required to make this possible. However, global renewable energy governance is often regarded as fragmented and ineffective. Existing research has provided useful insights into the multiplicity of governance goals and diversity in institutions, but an understanding of underlying frames is yet lacking. Frame analysis explores how actors interpret and define a problem in different ways, based on which different solutions can be put forward of which some are more adequate than others. It thus provides a compelling new angle to the scientific debate on fragmentation. This paper therefore poses the question how the global energy challenge and the role of renewables are framed throughout the overall institutional complex for renewable energy, among different institutional types, and across individual institutions. To facilitate the search for an answer, it applies an innovative computational method that allows for a large-scale and multi-level frame analysis. The results demonstrate that renewable energy institutions currently prioritize climate change, with a stronger growing focus on universal access to energy services, while undermining concerns of energy scarcity. Nevertheless, frames vary strongly across different levels of governance, and among various types of institutions. The paper therewith forms an important contribution to our understanding of global renewable energy governance and its fragmented nature.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101355
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalEnergy Research & Social Science
Early online date21 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


The author would like to acknowledge support from the Swedish Energy Agency (CLIMENGO project, ‘Mapping the institutional complexity of global climate and energy governance, evaluating its effectiveness and legitimacy, and developing a knowledge base for decision-makers’, contract number 40657-1). On top of that, the author thanks Philipp Pattberg and Oscar Widerberg for their valuable inputs during the writing process, and James Patterson, Dave Huitema, Nicolien van der Grijp, and Erick Velazquez Hernandez for participating in the validation workshop. Most importantly, the author appreciates the extensive commentaries of the three reviewers and the chief-editor of Energy Research & Social Science, which have helped to significantly improve the quality of this research paper. Appendix A

FundersFunder number
chief-editor of Energy Research & Social Science


    • Automated text analysis
    • Energy trilemma
    • Fragmentation
    • Frame analysis
    • Global governance
    • Renewable energy


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