Excessive matter/effective energies: tracing the contours of a wind energy experiment in Scotland
(The James Hutton Institute)
Paper short abstract:
This paper considers how notions of efficiency and excess figure in energy generation practices on a Scottish peninsula that has conducted a 40-year-long experiment with off-grid micro-wind turbines.
Paper long abstract:
This paper considers how notions of efficiency and excess figure in energy generation practices on a Scottish peninsula that has conducted a 40-year long experiment with off-grid micro-wind turbines. In the absence of grid electricity, Scoraig's 80 inhabitants rely largely on the handcrafted turbines - designed, built and continually developed in situ largely by one highly skilled resident - to supply their energy needs. I focus both on residents' practical engagements with Scoraig's energy technologies and on the aesthetics of scrap that has accompanied their emergence. The turbines evolved through the creative use of salvaged materials; jeep dynamos were repurposed as motors and telegraph poles as turbine towers. The rusting remains of machinery, blades and other objects continue to pepper Scoraig's gardens and stony beaches; artfully propped up on walls and rocks, they appear to wait even as they decay, not quite abandoned, evoking this sense that objects carry potentials exceeding their original uses. The paper explores the co-dependencies between this striking 'excess' of matter and locals' aspirations towards cultivating more 'efficient' alignments between different forms of energy, as they discipline their everyday bodily practices in line with the potentials of wind and sun. I argue that moves towards efficiency generated particular forms of excess in Scoraig, and reclaim the sense of 'efficient' as that which is 'productive of effects' in order to evoke Scoraigers' understanding that they live as they do in order to produce, make visible and bear witness to their multiple impacts upon and entanglements with the world.
Efficiency and excess