WIT Press

Autonomy And Heteronomy: The Need For Decentralization In A Centralizing World


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A. van Timmeren


There is growing heteronomy of the essential utilities, particularly energy and sanitation. The methods and techniques applied in present-day essential infrastructures for energy and sanitation supply may be considered traditional and driven by the separation and centralization paradigm. There is physical expansion, due to globalization combined with the liberalization of the energy market and – to a smaller extent – the solid-waste market. Other characteristics of development are specialization and segmentarization, with one or several dominant parties per sub flow or sector as major results. Convergence of the various technical infrastructures is a new characteristic. It results in greater complexity and more dependence on the structures as perceived by users. For sectors that are left to market forces, positive effects are soon to be expected on the efficient use of the (infra)structures by oligopolistic market types, and, thus, on the affordability of the accompanying services. However, market participants have no interest in overcapacity, which puts pressure on the reliability of supply (by a maximum bid on the available capacity). Pressure can also be put on the other long-term interests, including maintenance of grids and investments in, research into or application of innovations, e.g. those that aim at sustainable development. Main aspects for users are sustainability, a guarantee on supply and processing and affordability. Reliability and affordability gain more importance. At this moment, this is still at the expense of sustainability. There will be a (wellknown) dilemma between the short term (economic efficiency) and the long term (sustainability and guarantee of supply). Where the essential infrastructures are concerned, the liberalization of the markets shows that the goals set cannot always be accomplished in an integral way. At a national level, there is (still) too little grip on the developments. The demand for supervision or rules at a supra-national level is being heard, and this causes one of the reasons for liberalization to be surpassed. Keywords: heteronomy, infrastructures, autonomy, integration strategy.


heteronomy, infrastructures, autonomy, integration strategy.