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  3. Postdoc: Improving the evaluation of sustainable energy policies through developing Participatory Value Evaluation

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Postdoc: Improving the evaluation of sustainable energy policies through developing Participatory Value Evaluation

Worldwide, governments and firms invest in sustainable energy technologies, projects and policies to decarbonise energy systems. The investment decisions are …

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Mekelweg, Delft, Zuid-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
32 - 32 uur
€ 3238 - € 4084 per maand


Worldwide, governments and firms invest in sustainable energy technologies, projects and policies to decarbonise energy systems. The investment decisions are often made on the basis of Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA). However, classical CBAs have difficulty incorporating citizens’ ethical considerations concerning the procedural and distributive aspects of such decisions, considerations that clearly affect the social acceptance of decisions on sustainable energy policies.

Dutch practitioners consider the use of Participatory Value Evaluation (PVE) to evaluate sustainable energy policies as this approach has the potential to include citizens’ ethical considerations in real-world economic policy analysis. PVE is a new assessment model in which citizens choose a portfolio of policies given one or more constraints (budget/sustainability target). Using these individual choices we will estimate behavioural choice models that subsequently form the basis for an economic evaluation of different policies. The key distinction between CBA and PVE is that CBA infers welfare effects of (government) projects from individuals’ monetary willingness to pay in markets, whereas PVE infers welfare effects from individuals’ preferences over the allocation of (public) budgets. A demo-version of a PVE that was recently conducted for the Transport Authority Amsterdam can be found online: www.participatie-begroting.nl.

The key objective of the project is investigating whether PVEs can deliver on two promises:

1) Inclusion of citizens’ ethical considerations in quantitative real-world economic policy assessment;
2) Contributing to citizens’ acceptance of decisions on sustainable energy policies by recognising distributive and procedural considerations.

The research design consists of two closely related postdoc projects.

A postdoc at TU Delft will investigate the extent to which PVE allows for the inclusion of citizens’ ethical considerations through conducting PVEs in which we explicitly include morally salient features of sustainable energy policies. The TU Delft postdoc will also explore whether different applications of PVE can foster procedural justice by including the possibility of deliberation and co-design and study how these PVE applications impact citizens’ social acceptance of sustainable energy policies.

A postdoc at VU Amsterdam develops discrete choice models that measure the extent to which citizens are willing to forego personal benefits to foster ethical considerations.


The key challenge for the TU Delft postdoc is to design rigorous experiments in the real-life cases of our project: sustainable energy policies in Amsterdam and Helmond. In previous PVEs we experienced that ‘patience’, ‘persistence’, ‘persuasion’ and ‘perfectionism’ are needed to conduct a successful PVE. For the success of the project it is vital that the applicant posits these competencies. Because the PVEs take place in a real-life context critical stakeholders need to support the design of the experiment. To achieve support stakeholders need to understand the experiment and also be able to provide input. Because the results of a PVE might hurt a stakeholder’s interests risk-averse stakeholders can be hesitant to support the experiment and/or make the effort to provide input. Patience, persistence and persuasion are needed to convince stakeholders. Persuasion is also needed when stakeholders provide suggestions that might infringe the scientific rigor/innovativeness of the PVE. Finally, designing a PVE together with stakeholders is an iterative process. Many changes are made after discussions with stakeholders or pilot experiments. Due to the high amount of changes errors can easily creep into a PVE. Hence, the applicant should be a perfectionist who aims to avoid errors by anticipating the impacts of changes and double checking all components of the experiment.

The applicant should also be able to conduct multidisciplinary research. The use of knowledge from several academic fields – socio-technical energy systems, experimental economics, energy justice – is needed for the design of PVEs. Socio-technical energy systems: the (ethical) impacts of sustainable energy policies are the backbone of the PVEs. Experimental economics: rigorous measurement of the extent to which citizens are willing to forego personal benefits to foster ethical considerations is needed. Energy justice: concepts such as procedural justice and social acceptance need to be operationalised and measured in the context of sustainable energy policies. Hence, applicants preferably have a multidisciplinary profile, with a strong basis in one of the three above mentioned fields or closely related fields.

The applicant is also responsible for the analysis of (Dutch) qualitative data. It is therefore a strong advantage if you read well in Dutch. Finally, we need an enthusiastic individual who desires to make a real-life contribution to the energy transition through scientific research.


TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount for health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. An International Children’s Centre offers childcare and an international primary school. Dual Career Services offers support to accompanying partners. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

Additional information

For information about this vacancy and selection procedure, please contact Niek Mouter, Assistant Professor, email: n.mouter@tudelft.nl.

To apply, please e-mail: 1) a detailed CV (including contact information from at least two academic references); 2) a letter of motivation (max 2 pages) which also explains why you posit the requirements discussed above; 3) Your three main critiques regarding the research proposal and solutions to circumvent/alleviate these critiques. To be able to do this, you will need additional information on the project. Please contact Niek Mouter (n.mouter@tudelft.nl) for a summary description of the project.

Application interviews will be held between April 10 and April 23. Applications should be sent by April 9 2018 to Olivie Beek, vacature-tbm@tudelft.nl. When applying for this position, please refer to vacancy number ATTBM 18.005.


Faculty Technology, Policy and Management

The Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management (TPM) develops robust models and designs, to solve the complex challenges of today’s networked society. TPM combines insights from the engineering sciences with insights from the humanities and the social sciences.

The postdoc will be positioned in one of the three departments of TPM, Engineering Systems and Services (ESS). The core activity of ESS is to model, understand, forecast, and shape emerging technological innovations and user patterns in the increasingly interconnected sectors of energy, mobility, and ICT, and to use these insights for improved design, regulation, and operation of such engineering systems. ESS aims to contribute to the scholarly debate at the highest international level and is rooted in both engineering and social sciences.