Constructing Viking Link: How the Infopower of Cost-benefit Analysis as a Calculative Device Reinforces the Energopower of Transmission Infrastructure

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The phronetic approach of the Sustainable Energy Planning research group at the Department of Planning at Aalborg University means that it actively participates in public debates over energy futures. In the recent case of Viking Link, a planned Danish-British interconnector, the group has proposed a significantly alternative valuation compared to that of the Danish Transmission System Operator Energinet and the Danish authorities. While the latter claim that Viking Link is imperative to green transition (termed Supergrid thought style), the former argue that there are better flexibility options available (termed Smart Energy System thought style). Through an empirical assessment of the cost-benefit analysis and of a parliamentary hearing regarding Viking Link, this paper sheds light on the power struggles inherent to these fact- making processes. It shows how energopower, that is, the political power inherent to energy infrastructures, operates through calculative devices and thought collectives, resulting in the different valuations of Viking Link. The cost-benefit examination reveals how calculations exert infopower, that is, the power exercised through the work of data formatting. Thereby, the calculative device limits the potential valuations of Viking Link and hence restricts decision-making. The Supergrid thought collective in turn is subject to a 'harmony of delusions', resulting in enduring resistance to anything that contradicts its thought style. In times of energy transition, energopower is stabilized by the intertwined fact-making of calculative devices and thought collectives: Alternative scenarios of wind power integration through sectoral coupling are disregarded by the calculative device and made invisible by the Supergrid thought collective, although the Smart Energy System thought style is also represented at Energinet. Thus, the dominant thought collective and the cost-benefit analysis reinforce each other. Very literally, this interplay creates its own reality: Viking Link has entered the construction phase. Thought collectives and calculative devices act to fasten the energopower through regulatory capture, in turn enabling Energinet to shift its role from a national natural monopoly to a state-owned multinational. This calls for regulatory reforms of both revenue cap regulation and grid tariff principles of the transmission system operator.
TidsskriftŒconomia ­­– History / Methodology / Philosophy
Udgave nummer3
Sider (fra-til)555-578
Antal sider25
StatusUdgivet - 1 sep. 2020


  • cost-benefit analysis
  • calculative devices
  • thought collective
  • infrastructure
  • interconnector
  • transmission
  • Viking Link
  • energopower
  • infopower
  • regulatory capture
  • state-owned multinationals
  • natural monopoly


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