This panel explores how transitions towards sustainable energy production affect our everyday lives. Energy encompasses the human and the non-human, the material and the symbolic. To reveal the social value of energy, we need to discuss how people experience, describe, and debate energy practices.
Global, sustainable energy transition is one of the greatest contemporary challenges in our world. Its effects are visible at national and local levels as well as in our everyday lives. The concept of energy transition has helped researchers to understand the evolution of human material culture, economic development and growth, utilisation of resources, and social organisation. Transitions are rarely unilineal, revolutionary events; rather, such changes are often seen as uneven, erratic, contextually dependant and, to some extent, globally connected. Anthropology is in an excellent position to explore the complexity of everyday human encounters with the apparatus of sustainable energy transitions. From micro-renewables, to community-led projects to commercial developments, energy production has become ubiquitous. It is no longer obscured from the majority of human experience in an inaccessible North Sea oil rig or an isolated power station; it is the hydro-dam in the river, the solar panels on our roof, or the wind turbines dotting the farmers' fields. This panel invites papers that explore, through a focus on empirical, theoretical or methodological issues, how sustainable energy transitions are influencing the rhythms, practices and experiences of everyday life. Topics may include (but are not limited to) the meaning of scale in energy production; inequality in access to or control over sustainable energy resources; energy ownership; empowerment of local people; acceptability of renewable energy sources; the re-distribution of organisational relationships; the production of energy-related knowledge; ways of experiencing energy; or changes in social relationships as a result of changing energy production techniques.