What is ‘local’ about Smart Local Energy Systems? Emerging stakeholder geographies of decentralised energy in the United Kingdom

Walker, Chad, Devine-Wright, Patrick, Rohse, Melanie, Gooding, Luke, Devine-Wright, Hannah and Gupta, Rajat (2021) What is ‘local’ about Smart Local Energy Systems? Emerging stakeholder geographies of decentralised energy in the United Kingdom. Energy Research & Social Science, 80. p. 102182. ISSN 2214-6296

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2021.102182


As governments worldwide address the climate crisis, energy systems are becoming both decarbonised and decentralised. In this study, we aim to increase understanding of the spatial dimensions of new forms of decentralised energy systems that integrate electricity, storage, transportation, and heating. Drawing on workshops and secondary data from three, early-stage case studies funded under a UK government programme, we examine how stakeholders responsible for development construct the ‘local’ in Smart Local Energy System (SLES) demonstrators. We employ three analytical concepts to address this aim: emplacement, place-framing, and place/boundary-making. In terms of emplacement, stakeholders use place-based narratives that draw on distinctive infrastructural, social, ecological, and political characteristics to argue that diverse locations (Oxford city, Oxfordshire, and the Orkney Islands) are ‘suitable’ places for decentralised energy. Stakeholders frame projects around non-local goals of creating technological and business models for replication across the UK and worldwide, even if some community-centred benefits are recognized. Lastly, our findings on place-making show pragmatism in flexing ‘local’ boundaries in order to align with project objectives. The three analytical concepts provide a useful framework to uncover ‘local’ complexities of early-stage decentralised energy projects, and emphasise intersections of space, place, and justice that deserve further scrutiny, notably in later stages of project implementation.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Decentralised energy, Smart Local Energy Systems, Geography, Emplacement, Place framing, Place/boundary-making
Faculty: Faculty of Science & Engineering
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic User
Depositing User: Symplectic User
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2021 16:07
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2022 01:02
URI: https://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/706841

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