"Coming of Age in Germany" - from local tinkerers to green capitalism: energy transition in Germany
Oliver Hinkelbein (University of Bremen)
Paper short abstract:
Based on ethnographic case studies the paper shows the cultural dynamics of energy transition in Germany. The papers main argument is that the assemblage of actors, their power relations, practices and the struggle for commons is the key to understand energy transition and green capitalism.
Paper long abstract:
More than 30 years ago local tinkerers started to develop wind turbines to produce their own clean energy. This time symbolizes the advent of energy transition in Germany. In the past decades a tremendous economic transformation, accompanied by drastic cultural and political changes, occurred. Today so-called green energy technologies like wind-power, biomass, water-power and solar-energy have matured and are driving forces of an emerging green capitalism. Whole regions like the Federal State of Bremen, the coastal regions of the North and Baltic Sea and the East Friesian Islands experience transitions in local culture, politics, economy, science, and infrastructure. Based on ethnographic case studies in the North West of Germany and on the East Friesian islands the paper argues that energy transition is not only a political program to protect the planet from climate change. It is much more a western approach of development that aims to negotiate the tremendous economic and political crisis we are confronted with. Thus, new energy technologies are means to deal with an uncertain future. The whole development is marked by vivid cultural dynamics that are shaped by the dreams, practices and narrations of actors like cultural brokers, scientists, politicians, engineers, managers, and inhabitants of cities, coasts and islands - as well as by "things" like wind turbines, ships, solar panels and submarine cables. The main argument of the paper is that the assemblage of these actors, their power relations, practices and the struggle for commons is the key to understand energy transition and green capitalism. The paper shows the cultural dynamics and the processes of how alternative energy technologies have come of age in Germany.