Understanding the dynamics of the renewable energy discourse: The framing practices of heterogeneous actors
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Integrating renewable energy into the energy system is one of the main challenges countries are facing on their way to reduce the GHG emissions. This integration of renewables can be done in several ways and has the potential to influence a lot of different actors. Based on issue, a discourse emerges in which all stakeholders frame their interpretation on renewable energy. These framing practices affect the actions taken by the actors and hence influence if and how renewables are integrated. This research aims to describe the evolution of the discourse, focussing on the framing practices of the actors. The discourse on renewable energy in the UK has been assessed using quotes of actors in newspaper articles. By applying two automated content analysis methods to the dataset the framing practices of the different actor type could be assessed. According to the results, it can be concluded that every actor framed problems and solutions which were related to their own interest and for which they tried to influence the interpretations of others. This mechanism leads to a variety of topics which were included in the discourse related to, for instance, policy, specific technologies or business aspects. The occurrences of these topics in the framing practices varied over time and part of this variation can be explained by the developments in the field. If an actor senses that a development creates an opportunity or a need for another actor to act, it will adapt their framing practices to motivate others. Based on the content of the framing practices and the variation over time a framework has been created, including different “levels” of framing. Every level represents a type of problem which could be diagnosed and the related solutions. A solution is related to the problem on the next level. Actors differ in the level of framing they mainly address which might harm the effectiveness of their framing practices. The framework can be useful for practice, since actors can get insights in how to optimize the effect of their framing, and for theory, since it might help the understanding framing practices in other types of discourses too. Finally, this research also contributes to content analysis by applying an innovative approach for the analysis of framing practices.