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Socio-technological scenarios of Japan’s future energy issues in 2050 based on scanning-based foresight method

Reiko Takahashi (Center for Research and Development Strategy, Japan Science and Technology Agency, Tokyo, Japan)
Ryoji Nakamura (Center for Research and Development Strategy, Japan Science and Technology Agency, Tokyo, Japan)
Yuichi Washida (Graduate School of Business Administration, Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo, Japan)

Foresight

ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 19 June 2019

Issue publication date: 5 September 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to create socio-technological future scenarios of Japan in the year 2050 and beyond, with a particular focus on energy and its relation to science and technology (S&T).

Design/methodology/approach

A workshop based on the scanning-based foresight method (SBFM) was conducted. Social change scenarios were created by participants browsed scanning materials about futuristic topics. Then, energy and society scenarios were produced by combining social change scenarios and future issues describing S&T related to energy in Japan in the future.

Findings

The participants who have different scientific and technological experties produced various images of Japan’s energy society around the year 2050. Based on these depictions, future visions of scenarios about energy and society were different in terms of consistency between S&T and future needs from current visions which focus on the transient of social awareness. The sociocentric view and confidence in self-made technology were found in the workshop and the participants believed some social problems would be solved with rich experiences and expertises in S&T even if human resources were limited. It was also found that each scenario portrayed an optimistic view of the relatively near future, in which innovative energy-related technologies are developed to optimize both personal satisfaction and social efficiency. On the other hand, we found rather pessimistic survival scenarios about the far future as concerns climate change and natural disasters.

Originality/value

Experts from several fields used their insight to apprehend an energy future and depicted, from scientific and technological perspectives, a vision of a different future society from the one that would emerge in a traditional linear scenario in which a proper balance is struck between the usage of S&T and its limitations. SBFM was also found to be beneficial for insight into energy S&T with its many uncertainties.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to express their gratitude to all the participants of the workshop. They would also like to thank the following organizations for their contributions to recruit workshop participants: the Institute of Electrical Engineers of Japan, the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Japan Institute of Energy, the Institute of Electronics, Information and Communication Engineers, the Society of Instrument and Control Engineers, the Society of Chemical Engineers, Japan, the Electrochemical Society of Japan, the Society for Biotechnology, Japan, Japan Society of Civil Engineers, the Japan Society of Transportation Economics and the Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan, Inc.

Citation

Takahashi, R., Nakamura, R. and Washida, Y. (2019), "Socio-technological scenarios of Japan’s future energy issues in 2050 based on scanning-based foresight method", Foresight, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 467-481. https://doi.org/10.1108/FS-12-2018-0115

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited