EASA2014: Collaboration, Intimacy & Revolution
Ubiquitous energy: everyday energy rhythms, practices and experiences
Date and Start Time 02 August, 2014 at 09:00
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.
Discussant: Dr. Mikko Jalas (Aalto University, Finland)
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
(Re) Constructing landscape: the impacts of wind farms in local communities
In Portugal, there are nearly two hundred fifty wind farms spread in national territory mostly located in rural areas. The proliferation of wind farms has impacts on local communities especially concerning the perceptions about their own heritage and landscape
In Portugal, wind energy represents almost half of the renewable energy produced in the country. There are nearly two hundred fifty wind farms spread in national territory, mostly located in the north and center of the country, in rural areas. The proliferation of wind farms has impacts on local communities, not just on daily life, or on the economic and social fabric, but especially concerning the perceptions about their own heritage and landscape. How does the presence of these "machines in the garden" influence these perceptions? And why does it seem to activate (Prats 1997) the notion of local heritage and belonging within the community? This paper aims to illustrate and discuss these (re) constructions of landscape in the rural space. It is based on two case studies, one in the Serra de Alvaiázere and the other in Serra da Freita; both part of the Natura 2000 Network in Portugal. We characterize the representations concerning the social perception of local transformations caused by the wind farm implementation in both places.
We use documentary analysis from the public consultation reports of Environmental Impact Assessments, as well as all the news published before, during and after the implementation process in local newspapers, and semi-structured interviews with members of the local communities and other actors involved in the process. This paper is part of a research project titled "Social-technical consensus and controversies regarding renewable energies" funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology.
Acceptability of wind power landscape
The acceptability of wind power is studied empirically by testing the landscape preferences and attitudes of wind power siting. The data is collected among Finnish university students whose emotional bonds to Finnish landscapes including wind power constructions is studied.
Visual impacts are one of the major concerns when assessing the siting of renewable energy production, like wind power. People may value the natural landscape, or "wildscape", and in that case wind turbines can represent industrial elements which ruin these landscape values. On the other hand, environments with strong man-made characteristics have visual values as well. These may be traditional landscapes where new technology seems to be in a wrong place. Disruptions in urban landscapes are created when a wind power project threat the identity of people with strong place attachment.
This study rests on previous wind power attitude research where we studied wind power plans and both rural Finnish summer cottage culture and urban environment. In this study, we empirically test the different meanings for wind power landscape. The data was collected among students of a technological university in Finland. The aim was to study their attitudes of wind power. This study identifies the emotional bonds to certain Finnish landscapes. We are testing the landscape preferences of these young people; which kind of landscapes they feel favorable, are these landscapes part of their identity? The connection between personally valuable landscape and wind power siting is revealed: where is wind power accepted? In the future, these young people could be leading experts and decision-makers in energy business, not to mention their role as everyday energy consumers. The meaning of experienced landscape values in formation of wind power acceptability is discussed.
Household relations and domestic demand side response
Domestic electricity consumption resides in the ‘household’:a taken for granted formula that masks complex formations of household composition and energy practices. But how do relations between household members contribute to shaping the energy practices that determine consumption?
Electricity consumption in the domestic setting resides in the 'household' and is measured by a single meter. This taken for granted formula masks the dynamic and often complex formations of residential patterns, household composition and energy practices that constitute each example. In this paper we investigate how an individual's positions within the household and relations between members contribute to shaping the energy practices that determine consumption. In particular we ask how age and gender influence people's practices within the household. Studies of energy use through the lens of gender make up only a tiny minority of the otherwise thriving literature on sustainable domestic energy use (Roehr, 2002; Clancy, 2003; Skutsch, 2005; Oparaocha, 2011) while generational effects are with rare exceptions (Gram-Hanssen, 2007) hard to find.
The paper draws on the Customer Led Network Revolution Project, a large empirical research project in the UK which has conducted trials of time of use pricing and temporary interruptions to supply. We investigate the domestic roles and responsibilities involved in the performance of everyday practices which mediate relationships between energy systems and people and between people (Ropke and Christensen, 2013). In a study of 131 households we find age, relatedness, fluidity in household composition and gender roles and norms affect the performance of domestic practices and that in many ways women retain
roles and responsibilities associated with certain practices associated with demand for power in the early evening peak period and which hold considerable potential for DSM.
Stacking wood and staying warm: time, temporality and housework around domestic heating systems
This paper addresses the socio-technical ordering of time around wood-fuelled heating systems of detached houses. It analyses the sequences and rhythms that organise the work, the synchronization of this activity with other activities, and the tempo as the subjective experience of time.
This paper presents a study of the socio-technical ordering of time around wood-fuelled heating systems of detached houses. It analyses the sequences and rhythms that organise the work of domestic heating, the synchronization of this activity with other daily activities, and the tempo as the subjective experience of time in these activities. The study is based on a large, pre-existing Finnish free-form diary collection. We suggest that domestic energy technologies become useable and useful through the gradual embedding that involves the temporal organization of everyday life. As a result, technologies that organise time are not only convenient in an invisible way but also act as taken-for-granted coordinates and rhythms of human pursuits in everyday life. In many countries, wood-fuelled heating systems remain a common renewable energy technology in detached houses and stand as one option to lower related carbon emissions. However, the broader use of wood is compromised by time and convenience. A better understanding of the rhythms of heating work can support the promotion of this renewable energy technology.
Keywords: Time, temporality, heating systems, housework, household consumption, renewable energy
Wind power: how debates about wind farms can enhance anthropological understandings of power and influence
This paper focuses on the dialogue that occurs within and between groups who are talking about wind energy in Highland Scotland. I argue that the mutually constitutive character of both pro- and anti-wind farm positions can inform our understanding of how power functions on an everyday basis.
The Scottish Government has committed to generating an equivalent of 100% of Scotland's electricity demand from renewable sources by 2020, with onshore wind currently accounting for over half of installed renewable capacity. Yet, with almost every new onshore wind farm development proposed, opposition to the technology appears to grow and arguments regarding the legitimacy of their place in Scotland rages on.
Using data collected during twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork undertaken in the far north of Scotland, I argue that attention to the varying discourses present in such debates, how they are produced and how they are negotiated provides a compelling narrative on how power, resistance, environments and selves continually emerge through a process of dialogue.
I describe a series of interconnected arguments which draw on themes as diverse as climate change, art and imagery, economics and employment, and historical legacies which different groups have used to validate their own position or undermine another's position in relation to wind farms. How people depict locally experienced wind farms as part of a larger regional or global environment offers a unique perspective on how people conceptualise scale, how they comprehend their location within varied scales, and to what extent and why they value particular connections and relationships that link them with other people and places across the scale. The way people draw on these connections, either to strengthen or negate them, is one way of exploring how power is gained, maintained or altered through interaction and how inequality is created and perpetuated.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.