New book: Mise à l’épreuve des pratiques sociales : la recherche appliquée chez EDF

Isabelle Garabuau-Moussaoui, Magali Pierre (dir.), Pratiques sociales et usages de l’énergie, Paris, Lavoisier, Editions Tec & Doc, coll. « Socio-économie de l’énergie », 2016, 253 p., ISBN : 978-2-7430-2021-7.

Des crises pétrolières à la loi de transition énergétique, en passant par les différents événements nationaux et mondiaux concernant l’environnement et l’énergie, différents acteurs ont appelé à un changement de comportements des utilisateurs finaux d’énergie, appuyés par des analyses de l’homo oeconomicus (agent mu par sa rationalité économique) et de l’homo ecologicus (agent mu par ses valeurs environnementales). Cette démarche, qui n’a pas porté tous les fruits attendus, considère les comportements comme points d’aboutissement des politiques publiques, des dispositifs techniques ou des offres.

Cet ouvrage propose de renverser cette perspective. Posant les pratiques sociales comme point de départ, notre démarche consiste à appréhender leur diversité et leur ancrage quotidien et à saisir leurs logiques propres, pour analyser ensuite comment les outils et dispositifs sont mobilisés dans ces pratiques.

Dans un premier temps, les pratiques sociales et activités qui produisent une consommation d’énergie sont étudiées, afin de montrer comment les usagers jouent avec les systèmes, les équipements, les expérimentations, les catégories, les prescriptions. Dans un second temps, l’analyse se décale vers les acteurs intermédiaires, afin de prendre en compte les dispositifs socio-techniques, les acteurs et les instruments. C’est ainsi le « façonnement social » des technologies et la « fabrique des pratiques » qui sont explorés. Enfin, le rapport entre normes et pratiques (imbrication ou décalage) est examiné, en s’attachant aux discours portés par les ménages et les médias sur les consommations d’énergie et en analysant ce que chacun en raconte, dans ses actes langagiers.

Les contributions alternent entre restitutions d’enquêtes empiriques originales et travaux de synthèse faisant le point sur une notion. L’acteur de terrain comme le chercheur académique et l’étudiant pourront ainsi tirer profit de plusieurs niveaux de lecture correspondant à des formats de papier qui se complètent.

Sommaire
Introduction générale
Isabelle Garabuau- Moussaoui et Magali Pierre

PARTIE 1 – LOGIQUES D’ACTION

CHAPITRE 1
Le consommateur- producteur d’énergie : des pratiques énergétiques en transition
Véronique Beillan

CHAPITRE 2
Acheter un appareil électroménager efficace
Caroline Escoffier

CHAPITRE 3
L’engagement dans une expérimentation d’effacement : des attitudes aux projets énergétiques des ménages
Cécile Caron et Mathieu Durand- Daubin

CHAPITRE 4
Précaires en milieu rural : quelles pratiques énergétiques ?
Dominique Le Roux

CHAPITRE 5
Expérimenter le véhicule hybride rechargeable dans la durée. Décrire et expliquer une nouvelle pratique sociale
Magali Pierre

CHAPITRE 6
Pratiques quotidiennes et rapport à la performance énergétique dans les bâtiments du secteur tertiaire : comment les occupants vivent au quotidien, entre figure de l’usager, du salarié et du consommateur- citoyen
Isabelle Garabuau- Moussaoui

PARTIE 2 – ACTEURS, FILIÈRES ET DISPOSITIFS

CHAPITRE 7
L’approche « par les instruments » des politiques visant influencer les pratiques énergétiques. Points de repère et perspectives pour les sciences sociales de l’énergie
Arthur Jobert

CHAPITRE 8
Dépenses énergétiques des ménages en Europe
Rachel Guyet, Ferenc Fodor et Dominique Le Roux

CHAPITRE 9
La « mise en société » du compteur d’électricité communicant Linky.
Enseignements sociologiques de la trajectoire d’innovation d’un outil de régulation économique
Aude Danieli

CHAPITRE 10
Travailler dans une école « zéro énergie » : pratiques sociales, enjeux professionnels et impacts sur la pédagogie
Isabelle Garabuau- Moussaoui

CHAPITRE 11
La maîtrise de l’énergie vue comme la conception d’une situation durable (appropriée et efficace) : apports de l’analyse ergonomique des activités domestiques
Myriam Fréjus

CHAPITRE 12
Les véhicules électriques, des démonstrateurs au prisme d’approches multidisciplinaires
Thierry Brincourt et Magali Pierre

PARTIE 3 – ÉVOLUTION DES NORMES DE TRANSITION ÉNERGÉTIQUE ET DE CONFORT

CHAPITRE 13
La question énergétique : entre pratiques sociales et problème public. Un exemple en région Provence- Alpes- Côte d’Azur (PACA)
Jérémy Bouillet

CHAPITRE 14
Liens entre attitudes à l’égard des économies d’énergie et valeurs
Béatrice Hammer et Monique Wach

CHAPITRE 15
Discours émergents et élaboration de nouvelles normes sociales : la médiatisation de la consommation durable
Ferenc Fodor et Patrick Couton- Wyporek

CHAPITRE 16
Le chaud et le froid des politiques énergétiques : des usages de la climatisation à leur prévention
Sophie Bouly de Lesdain

CHAPITRE 17
L’effet de la crise sur les ménages : Représentations, perceptions et pratiques
Christiane Legris – Desportes et Nina Testut

CHAPITRE 18
Faire preuve de discernement à propos des économies d’énergie : un nouvel énoncé des ménages/citoyens
Mathieu Brugidou

CHAPITRE 19
Températures du séjour en hiver : entre idéal et préconisations
Jérôme Cubillé

POSTFACES

POSTFACE 1
Les pratiques sociales à l’appui de la prospective énergétique ?
Catherine Kasbi

POSTFACE 2
Le besoin d’une connaissance en sciences humaines et sociales sur l’énergie sans cesse renouvelé
Karine Berthonnet

Peer review of an anonymous Energy Humanities paper – by Laura Watts

Peer review of an anonymous Energy Humanities paper

Laura Watts

www.sand14.com

IT University of Copenhagen

 

The following is based on my comments made at the Energy Impacts Roundtable, Bergen, 2017.

 

This was, as ever, a delightful paper to read; more research into social, cultural, and material relations with energy is always welcome. However, I do have some comments for the editors and authors to reflect on before publication.

First, there are moments when I feel the author is not sufficiently familiar with the language of their fieldsite and research location. There is some confusion in the difference between energy (measured in Joules), electricity (generally measured in Kilowatthours), and power (measured in Watts). These are not the same, but they are related and their relationship matters. Understanding how electricity is generated from energy (stored in ‘natural’ resources), how it is transmitted through a variety of Potential Differences (or Voltages) across different parts of the electrical network, and how it is measured and calculated (in Kilowatthours) through metering and tariffing is crucial to understanding the problems that engineers and policy must address. It generally behoves any researcher to learn something of the language of their fieldsite, and energy systems are no different.

It should also be remembered that energy is not a universal language. There are substantial differences across energy industries (photovoltaics, coal, nuclear, wind, tide etc.), across regions (compare USA with Denmark, for example), and even across local communities– remembering that electricity networks provide more capacity to some places than others. The histories and futures of both electricity grid infrastructure and tariffing are very diverse, and therefore pessimism or optimism in one region does not translate into a global trend.

Second, the author should be cautious not to repeat prior work, but instead refer to literature they might regard as outside their discipline or usual citation. Social, cultural and material studies of energy have been ongoing for many decades in other fields, particularly in Science and Technology Studies (STS), and there are long-standing overlaps between geography, anthropology and other humanities. Energy Humanities is an interdisciplinary field, in my experience, tacking back and forth over energetic seas.

Just to give a few examples of relevant literature the author might want to draw upon to strengthen their argument. Studies of infrastructure as a social, technical and environmental relation seems a core resource, with perhaps the most important work being Susan Leigh Star’s Ethnography of Infrastructures [1]. Her attention is political, on mundane and invisible work, on maintenance and the unsung labours that hold an infrastructure together so that it can endure over time.

Following on, the author might want to draw on Ashley Carse’s work on the Panama Canal, which explores the environment and local forest communities integral to the infrastructure [2]. Or Nicole Starosielski’s work to trace and problematise the practices in undersea cable networks that transmit internet data– work that resonates with electricity grid transmission [3].  The author might also explore prior research in the Public Understanding of Science around nuclear energy (e.g. work by Brian Wynne), which reflects on how publics are made and participate, or not, as experts in energy futures [4].

Third, the author should be cautious not to repeat the technological determinism that comes with the energy industry, nor the associated binary division between social/user and technical/infrastructure. Can they attend to how they ‘cut’ the problem of energy, or in classic ethnographic terms, how they make their fieldsite of energy [5].

When reading the paper, I was concerned that the author sometimes borrows, uncritically, the categories of ‘consumer’ and ‘producer’ (as well as the industry favourite, ‘prosumer’) without reflecting on the implications. To give two examples in the paper, which I feel warrant closer and more critical work:

One, in discussions with the energy operator, ‘people’ were always reduced to ‘consumers’ or ‘prosumers’, which reduces their social and cultural relationship with energy to a number e.g. to the Kilowatthours consumed or produced [6]. This tends to make invisible the richness of social and cultural relations with energy, both within the industry and in the home. Indeed, this reductionism risks losing much that anthropology and the social sciences has to say about people’s relations with energy, including new concepts and approaches they might offer to the energy industry.

Two, and this is somewhat related, in the discussion on Smart Meters (and smart energy apps) the paper could take a moment to reflect on the reduction of people to a number on the meter that must be audited and managed. This, again, risks losing sight of the diverse relations people have with energy [7]. To offer a suggestion, I would welcome a more intersectional, and multi-species, account of energy relations [8].

Finally, and most importantly, there is the question of what world the author hopes to generate through writing this paper. With so much at stake in energy futures, whether that be anthropogenic climate change or colonialism through extraction, it feels as if the author needs to take a breath and ask: what world does this paper make possible, and what world does it resist?

I particularly want to point to the problem with critique, and repeat an old argument made by Donna Haraway (and in a different vein by Bruno Latour): when we describe, unchanged, what we wish to critique we are also re-inscribing it and making it travel [9]. In short, all our descriptions of energy relations, and energy systems, are political and they tell the world one way, and not another. There is no pure description, only a political account that is located, and the author must choose its politics. Will the writing reproduce hierarchical orders, colonial stories, and give power to the already privileged? Or will the paper work to write against the grain, to resist privilege, to re-situate power, to give voice to those often silenced? (And this can be within companies and inside industrial communities, of course.)

Moreover, the resources that the author draws on also require attention because they, too, come with their own histories and politics that will cling to their argument; to quote Marilyn Strathern, “it matters what ideas we use to think other ideas [with]” [10]. In short, does the author intend to support the dystopian future of the energy multinational, which they describe in detail?

My comments are not intended to be daunting or frustrating to the author, rather to recognise their power as an academic to make a difference in the world. Here are two practical methods the author might draw on as alternatives.

One, Haraway suggests recognising how knowledge-making is both an empirical and creative practice. This should be familiar to any researcher: you have fragments of evidence that you must work to weave together. Haraway gives the researcher the potential to use this inherent creativity to a greater or lesser extent. From the careful, and always critically informed, retelling of their energy fieldsite, all the way to writing energy science fictions–all are Speculative Futures [11].

An alternative method, two, is to explore and experiment with writing style and public engagement. This may be too challenging to the author, or inappropriate to their audience, so this is a reminder not a requirement. As inspiration, I offer Anna Tsing and Elizabeth Pollman’s Global Futures card game [12], Sara Wylie’s work with citizen scientists around toxins and natural gas extraction [13], and Max Liboiron’s work to enact critical feminist politics in a citizen science laboratory that monitors ocean plastic [14]. Both games and civic laboratories are making futures otherwise, through creating and participating in their fieldsites otherwise [15]. And I regard publishing papers as no less an engagement in what futures can be.

I very much look forward to reading a revised version of this paper, and to its eventual publication. To close with some final words to propel the author: “it matters what matters we use to think other matters with… It matters what stories make worlds” [16]. I have no doubt that this author’s paper, and its engagement, will be one that others will think with, and will make new energy futures with.

 

References

[1] Star, Susan Leigh (1999) The Ethnography of Infrastructures. American Behavioral Scientists 43(3): 377–91.

[2] Carse, Ashley (2012) Nature as infrastructure: Making and managing the Panama Canal watershed. Social Studies of Science 42(4): 539–563.

[3] Starosielski, Nicole (2015) The Undersea Network. Durham ; London: Duke University Press.

[4] Wynne, Brian (2010 [1982]) Rationality and Ritual: Participation and Exclusion in Nuclear Decision-making, 2nd edition. London : Earthscan, Routledge.

[5] When talking about ‘cutting’ out energy and the work needed to locate a fieldsite I am referring to: Gupta, A and Ferguson, J (1997) Anthropological Locations: Boundaries and Grounds of a Field Science. Berkeley: University of California Press; Strathern, Marilyn (1996) Cutting the network. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 2(3): 517–535.

[6] For the classic discussion on the production of numbers from social groups see: Porter, Theodore M. (1996) Trust in Numbers: The pursuit of objectivity in science and public life. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

[7] For a discussion of auditing in another domain see: Strathern, Marilyn (2000) Audit cultures: anthropological studies in accountability, ethics, and the academy. London: Routledge.

[8] Intersectionality is an approach developed in feminist studies to understand how identity is not singular nor a priori, but dynamically intersects between groups see: Crenshaw, Kimberle (1991) Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color. Stanford Law Review 43(6): 1241–1299. For a discussion of multi-species infrastructure see: Morita, Atsuro (2016) Multispecies Infrastructure: Infrastructural Inversion and Involutionary Entanglements in the Chao Phraya Delta, Thailand. Ethnos: 1–20.

[9] Haraway, Donna J. (1994) A Game of Cat’s Cradle: Science Studies, Feminist Theory, Cultural Studies. Configurations 2(1): 59–71. Latour, Bruno (2004) Why has critique run out of steam? From matters of fact to matters of concern. Critical Inquiry 30 (Winter): 225–248.

[10] Strathern, Marilyn (1992) Reproducing the future: essays on anthropology, kinship and the new reproductive technologies. Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp.10.

[11] Haraway, Donna J. (2016) Tentacular Thinking: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene, in Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham: Duke University Press.

[12] Tsing, Anna and Pollman, Elizabeth (2005) Global Futures: The Game, in Rosenberg, D and Harding, S (eds), Histories of the Future, Durham: Duke University Press, pp. 107–122.

[13] Wylie, S., Jalbert, K., Dosemagen, S., Ratto, M. (2014) Institutions for Civic Technoscience: How Critical Making is Transforming Environmental Research. The Information Society 30(2): 116–126.

[14] Liboiron, Max (2016) Civic Technologies for Monitoring Marine Plastics. Journal of Ocean Technology 11(2).

[15] Also see both: Watts, Laura (2017) The Draukie’s Tale: Origin Myth for Wave Energy, in Szeman, I. and Boyer, D. (eds), Energy Humanities: An Anthology, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Watts, Laura (2014) Liminal Futures: A Poem for Islands at the Edge. In Leach, J. and Wilson, L. (eds.) Subversion, conversion, development: Cross-Cultural Knowledge Exchange and the Politics of Design, Cambridge: MIT Press.

[16] Haraway, Donna (2013) SF: Science Fiction, Speculative Fabulation, String Figures, So Far. Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology. Available from http://adanewmedia.org/2013/11/issue3-haraway/

Weekly Energy News Update – June 25th

This week’s News Update is brought to you by Last Week Tonight. Last Sunday evening John Oliver gave one of his best performances to date and it is all about the coal industry in the U.S. You can see the segment in its entirety here:

However, I would encourage you to do so soon. Oliver has attracted a defamation suit by one of the coal executives he critiques in the segment.

John Oliver, a giant squirrel and a defamation lawsuit by a coal industry titan (Washington Post)

Although it is too early to know if this will even make it into a court room, HBO may eventually take down the clip from youtube just as a precaution. Enjoy!


Finance

Big Oil turns to big data to save big money on drilling (Reuters)

Data analytics is saving oil companies billions of dollars and they are all investing heavily in expanding this technology. The intersection of big data and big oil could be a very timely research topic.

China, India, Japan hamper Asia oil demand growth, efforts to balance market (Reuters)

At least in China, many aspects working against petroleum. There are austerity measures, a social movement encouraging people to drive less and the arrival of bike sharing programs in some of the largest cities. Electric cars are still far in the minority, but these other issues must be having an impact on the market.

Renewable energy no longer a niche to institutional investors (Reuters)


Grid

Trump Power Study Riles Trade Groups Before It’s Released (Bloomberg)

A number of groups are preparing reports in preparation for the DOE analysis of the US grid that was ordered by Rick Perry. Most likely will come out in the next week. The AEE report can be found here.

Poland’s power grid can handle possible heatwave (Reuters)

Ahead of Modi visit, US announces $7.5 million to advance India’s power grid (India Times)


Labor

Freeport Indonesia workers to extend strike for a month (Reuters)

Finnish refiner Neste faces strike over proposed government stake sale (Reuters)

It appears the possibility of a strike has been resolved.


Pipeline

As Standing Rock Camps Cleared Out, TigerSwan Expanded Surveillance to Array of Progressive Causes (Intercept)

Dakota Access-Style Policing Moves to Pennsylvania’s Mariner East 2 Pipeline (Intercept)

The Intercept is really expanding their coverage on TigerSwan and its attempt to shift its surveillance tactics beyond Standing Rock and into a variety of environmental movements.

Oil to keep flowing in Dakota line while legal battle continues (Reuters)

Michigan fires contractor doing Enbridge oil pipeline risk analysis (Reuters)

Quite a bit of pipeline news this week.


Politics

Saudi Prince’s Elevation Will Have Far-Reaching Consequences in Energy (New York Times)

This has definitely been the most talked about issue in Energy News this week.

Egypt sends fuel for Gaza’s only power plant as Hamas links thaw (Reuters)

Modi’s Smart City Mission (India Times)

Mongolians fret over China investment as they prepare to vote (Reuters)

Seattle consultant connected to Oregon DOE racketeering (KOIN)

I typically tell people that local government in the US is corruption free. Ha! Proven wrong again.


Technology

What Does Your Smart Meter Know About You? (IEEE)

I love how IEEE’s tagline for this article is “It may be more than you like”

Norway’s Statkraft to make biofuel from wood chips and other waste (Reuters)

NASA Tests Flexible Roll-Out Solar Array on Space Station (Space.com)

I hope that I will write this Update long enough so that at some point I will need an “Intrastellar Energy” section 🙂 For now, check out the Press Release from NASA as well.


Transportation

Shut Up About the Batteries: The Key to a Better Electric Car Is a Lighter Motor (IEEE)

Outstandingly detailed article on EV motor engineering, reviews the past as well as current technology. Gotta love these IEEE titles too! 🙂

The future(s) of mobility: How cities can benefit (McKinsey)

Tesla moves a step closer to building electric cars in China (Reuters)

Ford bets on low oil prices, moves Focus production to China (Reuters)

The Focus is also a very popular car in China, so there are probably operational expenses that can be reduced by shifting all of the production to China. Not to mention the fact that there are no real unions in China.


Coal

At least eleven die in Colombia coal mine explosion (Reuters)

Regulators move to pull the plug on Mississippi coal plant (AP)

Botswana issues tenders for coal-to-liquid project to secure energy supply (Reuters)


Gas

Russia’s Gazprom says resolves issue with gas supplies to Poland (Reuters)

Western earthquakes likely connected to wastewater injection (Houston Chronicle)

UK wants to revive gas extraction in oldest part of North Sea oil basin (Reuters)

Foot off the gas: Increased reliance on natural gas in the power sector risks an emissions lock-in (Climate Action Tracker)

For a copy of the full report see here.


Hydropower

Reassess dam building in the Amazon (Nature)

For those interested in the detailed article behind this critical examination of dam building in the Amazon see this link

Council Report Details Bonneville Power Fish/Wildlife Costs For 2016: $621.5 Million (Columbia Basin Bulletin)

Here is a link to the Council’s full report.


Nuclear

Rapid nuclear decommissioning threatens climate targets, says IEA (Reuters)

South Africa to review nuclear plans in response to recession (Reuters)


Petroleum

Overturned oil tanker explodes in Pakistan, killing 120 (Guardian)

News of this tragedy is still developing. The last report I saw said 148 were killed.

Norway offers record number of blocks for Arctic oil exploration (Reuters)

Seventy workers taken off Bruce platform after power loss (BBC)

Oil firms could waste trillions if climate targets reached (Reuters)

This is an interesting way to look at the conflict between oil corporations and climate change. If countries really do intend to meet their targets, then these corporations are just bleeding money for no reason.


Solar

Solar energy powers clean water, business opportunities for refugees (Reuters)

California invested heavily in solar power. Now there’s so much that other states are sometimes paid to take it (L.A. Times)

Long title and a long read!

Solar shares shine after Trump talks up ‘solar wall’ (Reuters)

It is depressing to think that any company willfully would want to collaborate on this project. At least the AP wrote a fact checking article about this.

BlueRock Solar to Build New York’s Largest Community Solar Project (EnergyTrends)


Wind

Trump’s putdown of wind energy whips up a backlash in Iowa (AP)

 

Weekly Energy News Update – June 19th

I hate to start the Update with a scientific controversy (not so fun), but I believe this has relevance for many on the list. Some may remember Mark Jacobson’s publication in 2015 of a roadmap for 100% wind, solar and hydropower around the globe. This winter a critique of Jacobson’s models was published in PNAS with a rebuttal being published this past week. If you are looking for a quick insight into the battle I recommend the below article. Peter Fairley takes a very balanced “sociology of science” (his words) approach to the debate that I found appropriate. Either way I assume this is not the last we will hear of these 100% renewable mega-models or their discontents.

The most controversial aspect of Jacobson’s model rests on its reliance of hydropower, which can be seen in this graph modeling energy production over four days in 2055.

Can the U.S. Grid Work With 100% Renewables? There’s a Scientific Fight Brewing (IEEE)


Finance

VW to offer EU diesel car owners extended warranty but no money back (Reuters)

Surging shale spawns new financing structure for energy infrastructure (Reuters)

Those researching the intersection of finance and shale gas may want to pay attention to these new SPACs (special purpose acquisition companies).


Grid

Southern California power supply at risk this summer (Reuters)

In part this is due to the massive natural gas leak that occurred at Aliso Canyon nearly two years ago.

As cannabis industry grows, tensions rise over energy use (Oregon Business)

Yes there is indeed an important connection between energy and cannabis. Could make a great thesis topic.

Australia faces potential summer power crunch, market operator warns (Reuters)


Labor

Coal unions call off three-day strike (India Times)


Pipeline

Germany threatens retaliation if U.S. sanctions harm its firms (Reuters)

The new sanctions have possible repercussions for the Nord Stream 2 project. France has issued a similar statement.

Federal judge orders more environmental analysis of Dakota pipeline (Reuters)

 Politics

Why Gaza is experiencing a new power crisis (AP)

This piece dives into not just the current situation, but also the recent history that has led to the current crisis.

Emails reiterate EPA chief’s ties to fossil fuel interests (AP)

Unfortunately it does not appear that the AP is releasing this newest batch of e-mails to the public just yet. For those interested in the original batch of e-mails from February you can download them from the Center for Media and Democracy here.

Russia sought Siemens turbines for Crimean plants (Reuters)

Utility CEOs to DOE: Hands off state energy policies, grid planning (Utility Dive)

Strong tensions developing between local level grid planners and the Department of Energy. This debate has big implications for grids looking to diversify electricity sources, particularly from renewables.

Oil producer Norway bans use of heating oil in buildings (Reuters)

Japan logs surprise trade deficit in May as energy costs spike (AFP)

This is the economic consequence following the shutdown of Japan’s nuclear facilities.

New militant group threatens Niger Delta oil war – in Latin (Reuters)


Technology

Glastonbury Festival ‘Pee Power’ toilets will turn your wee into electricity (Bristol Post)

Detecting Hazardous Radiation From Afar Now Possible (IEEE)

Wireless Power for Moving Electric Vehicles Closer to Reality (IEEE)

More and more reports about this technology are coming out in recent weeks, perhaps we will see some commercial applications in the near future?


Transportation

Tesla Plans 10 to 20 More Gigafactories Worldwide (EnergyTrends)

India is betting big on electric vehicles, but where does that leave the makers of hybrids? (India Times)

A very detailed piece!


Biofuel

Oslo airport imports biofuels from California, greens doubt benefit (Reuters)

This does seem like a heavy dose of greenwashing. Hopefully someone is performing a Life Cycle Assessment to determine whether or not this does reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


Coal

Bulgaria accused of illegal aid to fossil fuel power providers (Reuters)

Even China-Backed Development Bank Won’t Touch Coal Projects (Foreign Policy)

Unlikely Netherlands will close coal plants soon (Reuters)


Gas

Qatar won’t cut gas to UAE: Qatar Petroleum CEO (Reuters)

South Korea plans to build liquefied natural gas plants in Iran for energy needs (IANS)


Hydropower

Gujarat gets Centre’s nod to shut gates of famous Sardar Sarovar dam (India Times)


Nuclear

South Korea retires oldest nuclear reactor on its 40th birthday (Reuters)

It appears President Moon is making good on his promise to move Korea away from nuclear power towards renewables, see also this article today in the Guardian

Turkey gives Rosatom go ahead to build nuclear plant (Reuters)


Petroleum

U.S. top court hands Chevron victory in Ecuador pollution case (Reuters)

Unfortunately the decision was just released and the brief may not be released for a few days. Those interested search the Department of Justice website, the docket number is 16-1178. For Chevron’s take on the case see this; for the law firm now representing Donzinger see this. The Business and Human Rights Resource Center also has a very detailed explanation of the case.

Amazon natives in Peru reach deal with Canada’s Frontera over oilfield (Reuters)

Mexico oil sector accidents raise doubts about deep water exploration (Reuters)

There was also a major accident at a refinery in Mexico this week.

Innovators toil to revive Canada oil sands as majors exit (Reuters)

Very provocative quote in this article: “Shale is like going on a date, the oil sands is like getting married,” he said. “The risk for capital is high in the oil sands, you have massive assets that need to complete on time and operate for 40 years to make money.”

Public oil drilling referendums causing ‘apprehension,’ says Ecopetrol exec (Reuters)

Certain communities in Colombia are voting to ban petroleum exploration.

In latest sign of crude glut, aging supertankers used to store unsold oil (Reuters)

This is mainly happening in Asia and is a good example of how contango can impact energy infrastructure


Solar

Section 201 May Cut 88,000 Jobs in U.S. if Ruled (EnergyTrends)

Delhi government opens registration for rooftop solar power plants (India Times)


Wind

Wind power can provide energy on coldest days (MetOffice)

You can find a more detailed open access report on this topic in Environmental Research Letters here

 

Moving with Energy from Periphery to Center of Society – by Ståle Knudsen

I was asked to talk about my research agenda related to energy issues, especially “what I will or would like to study in the near future” and “what should be studied”. Well, this is easy to answer when it comes to the near future as I am currently leading the project Energethics  which explores how Norwegian energy companies handle Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) when they operate abroad. Much previous research has stressed the way in which CSR has been used as a tool, especially by extractive industries, to bypass the state. Our research asks whether CSR is done differently when the corporations are partly or fully state-owned and embedded in a ‘Nordic model’. While we focus on different kinds of energy production in seven countries, we also research management in Norwegian headquarters as well as at other important sites, such as Statoil’s London office. Ultimately the project addresses issues of globalization and neoliberalization. Our multicited approach to the ‘flow’, negotiation and localization of CSR provides a way to study larger processes comparatively.

Neoliberalization in energy policies

In the longer term I want to explore further the role of neoliberalization in energy policies. I have started to work comparatively on this with a focus on Turkey. Based on my earlier work on fishers, fishery management, introduced species, complemented with current research on energy and irrigation, I have started to sketch a discussion of neo-liberalism’s manifold impacts on the environment in Turkey. Combining ethnographic work with other methods, this study will compare the extent to which neoliberal ideas and practices have been implemented in four different sectors – energy, fisheries, agriculture, and the management of biodiversity. I explore and compare the role of the material, the state, international institutions and popular protests amongst other issues, in creating different dynamics in each field. A preliminary analysis of this material indicates that state policy and neoliberal instruments are deployed differently in the energy sector than in other sectors surveyed. Why? Well, to simplify, because the state has different interests in the different sectors. While fisheries and agriculture no longer play a central role to the Turkish political economy, energy has moved to its core. Energy is considered central to the working of society, and a major concern and focus of state policies. Thus, concurrently, moving the attention of the anthropological gaze to energy also means moving ethnography from the margins to the center of society, from periphery to energy/power. This resonates, of course, with recent work on energy (Mitchell 2011) and makes, in certain respects, anthropology more relevant.

New research agendas

Then, what should we study? I suggest that anthropology should direct more, though not exclusive, attention on:

  • Energy corporations. Little anthropological work has been done inside of energy corporations. I disagree with the claim that since ethnographers have a tendency “to emphasize and identify with their subjects” they risk cooptation when doing fieldwork in corporate offices (Benson and Kirsch 2010:464). I think our methods and critical stance is robust enough to handle that challenge, which – by the way – should not be considered unique to studies of corporations. We should be able to distinguish empathy for informants from sympathy for corporations.
  • State regulatory bodies have central roles in the way production, distribution and consumption of energy are managed in most societies. They are key arenas for implementing policy changes, making it important to explore further the interface between policy, corporations and citizens.
  • Infrastructure has recently attracted (re-)new(ed) interest among anthropologists, and studies emphasize the way in which energy, technology and politics are intertwined. I think, however, time is ripe for comparative studies that explore how different types of energy, with different materialities, engender – or interacts with – certain technologies and polities to produce a range of qualitatively different networks or systems with different potentialities.

Methodological challenges

Research of all of the abovementioned issues comes with methodological challenges. Often, the classical anthropological method of ‘hanging out’ with people over time will not work. This can be because access to corporations or regulatory bodies is difficult due to the organizations’ high degree of concern about managing public knowledge of them, and the anthropologists’ lack of bargaining power in such situations – we do not have much of interest to offer. Usually, the anthropologist will not have been able to delve deep into the life of the corporation before being kicked out: the corporation often has little interest in the anthropologist’s work, and the anthropologist little to offer in return. The ethnographer will often be considered a nuisance.[1] Additionally, the character of the relations we study impels us to work in many sites simultaneously. This involves travels, more semi-structured interviews than participation, non-continuous involvement with our interlocutors, actively create platforms for interaction, mapping infrastructures of extensive geographical extent or opaque character, and being present at or attending activities that involve alternative forms of sociality (social media, websites, documents, skype-meetings). If we bringe our critical sensibilities to these issues while developing new tools and cultivating teamwork, I believe that anthropology can handle these challenges very cautiously, wisely and creatively.

References:

Benson, Peter and Stuart Kirsch (2010) ‘Capitalism and the Politics of resignation’, Current Anthropology 51(4): 459-476.

Mitchell, Timothy (2011) Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil. London: Verso.

[1] Steven Sampson, Department Seminar, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Bergen.

Weekly Energy News Update – June 13th

While I was considering writing a bit about Qatar to start off, I think the news articles in this update illustrate the intensity of that issue well enough (and frankly it has completely overwhelmed Reuters for the past week, so if you want to know more just go here.) Instead, I think the beginning of these posts should continue to be a bit fun:

Driver Supercop from team "Maroc" gets out of his Microlino, during the start of the Wave Trophy 2017 tour, on Friday, June 9, 2017, in Zurich, Switzerland. The World Advanced Vehicle Expedition rally, now in its seventh edition, is the brainchild of

This pic comes from an EV rally that began in Switzerland this week.  Unfortunately the news piece does not go into the details of “Supercop from team Maroc”, so I am really hoping there is someone on the list studying these EV rallies and can provide a better explanation 🙂

Electric vehicle rally sets off in Switzerland (AP)

I have been up in the mountains of Norway for the past few days and this shot looking towards the Jotunheimen helps explain the delay in this week’s update. Always enjoy hiking on remote and majestic mountaintops, but it tends to put a damper on digital exchange.


Finance

BP violated contract when it blended Texas crude (Reuters)

Canada invites Chinese investment in oil sands (Reuters)


Grid

Battery storage: The next disruptive technology in the power sector (McKinsey)

We’ve discovered power grid-wrecking software (AP)


Labor

Norway oil workers agree wage deal, ending threat of strike (Reuters)

Coal unions call strike from June 19, will talk only to minister or secretary (India Times)


Pipeline

Standing Rock Documents Expose Inner Workings of “Surveillance-Industrial Complex” (The Intercept)

This is the second of three articles on this terrifying reality at the intersection of energy and state power.

Qatar has no plan to shut Dolphin gas pipeline to UAE despite rift (Reuters)

Most of the articles I have seen are focused on the impact the crisis has had on shipping out of Qatar, but few have noted the importance of this pipeline between the UAE and Qatar.

Virginia Power Company Pushing Employees to Protect Pipeline in Democratic Governor Primary (The Intercept)


Policy

CEOs Praised For Backing the Paris Accord Also Funded Lobbyists Pushing Trump to Withdraw (The Intercept)
Here is an interesting quote about membership from the IECA website:
“Corporate membership is exclusive to companies who are industrial energy consumers. This allows policy development that truly reflects a “consumers” point of view. Only corporate membership may vote on policy and decisions related to the organization.”

Supreme Court to rule on legality of patent review system (Reuters)

While this case is being argued due to conflicts over hydraulic fracking technology, it could have major implications for intellectual property rights as a whole. Definitely need to stay tuned!

Interior Secretary to make proposal on Bears Ears monument in test for protected land (Reuters)

Seeing that there is no actual oil, gas or coal resources in the designated area of the Bears Ears Monument , this seems like an example of symbolic politics that needs a rich anthropological analysis.

Agency shuts down long-running energy news digest (E&E News)

Unfortunately this is behind a paywall and I cannot find any additional information about this change at the U.S. Department of Energy. Perhaps someone else on the list knows more and could share? At present there is still a good deal of information available on the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s website.

China’s $10 billion strategic project in Myanmar sparks local ire (Reuters)

India’s power plants stranded as 50 million homes left in the dark (Bloomberg)

U.S. Gulf Coast groups concerned as Trump picks BP lawyer to top DOJ post (Reuters)

U.S. Army base goes green with renewable energy project (Reuters)

Apparently, decentralization of energy is important to U.S. policy making if it has strategic military implications

S.Korea plans energy U-turn away from coal, nuclear (Reuters)


Technology

Drilling rig in Norway gets all its power from land to cut emissions (Reuters)

Renault plans foray into energy market with mega battery (Reuters)

For electric cars to become a dominant mode of transportation, at some point the second hand battery market will need to become more developed. Renault-Nissan may have part of the solution here, but it would seem recycling will also be necessary.

World’s energy system not on track to meet climate goals (Reuters)

Yikes! “Only three out of 26 assessed technologies – electric vehicles, energy storage and mature variable renewables (solar PV and onshore wind) – are on track to meet climate targets, according to the IEA.

GE begins testing drones to inspect refineries, factories (Reuters)


Transportation

Number of electric vehicles on roads reaches two million (Reuters)

Still just a drop in the bucket… (.2% to be exact…)

Electric cars could soon charge on the move (India Times)


Coal

China to speed up closing small-scale coal mines to improve safety (Reuters)

Town That Helped Power Northwest Feels Left Behind In Shift Away From Coal (NPR)

India’s Adani backs go-ahead for $4 billion Australia coal mine (Reuters)


Gas

Gas shortages risk reversing ambitious push to expand Pakistan’s forests (Reuters)


Hydropower

Backers of Honduran dam opposed by murdered activist withdraw funding (Guardian)
Narrow canals system blocks Ranjit Sagar Dam’s power generation in Punjab (India Times)


Nuclear

India’s answer to Donald Trump on climate is nuclear power (Bloomberg)

The Nuclear Industry Is In Financial Meltdown (The Ecologist)


Petroleum

Crude oil, fuel shipping costs from Qatar set to rise on port ban (Reuters)

While the rising crisis in the Gulf has many connections with energy, this is perhaps one of the most pressing.

Qatar Gulf row roils LNG market, Shell tanker diverted (Reuters)

Petrobras removes contracting ban on Andrade Gutiérrez after plea deal (Reuters)

Oil production stages unlikely comeback in Congo Republic (Reuters)

Venezuelan refinery reels as PDVSA ships light oil to Cuba, Curacao (Reuters)

Colombia oil industry threatened by local opposition (Reuters)


Solar

India’s first solar satellite television service brings ‘magic’ to villages (Reuters)

IKEA’s New Jacksonville Store to be Covered by Solar Array (EnergyTrends)

Tesla, Sunrun expected to resume Nevada rooftop solar sales (Reuters)

World’s largest floating solar farm reflects China’s clean energy ambitions (AFP)

Solar energy boom turns to bust for Indian manufacturers (Reuters)

Vikram Solar planning to double manufacturing capacity in over three years (India Times)

Hmm, it would seem that the previous Reuters headline may be a bit excessive…


Wind

Lack of power lines hits sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest wind farm (Reuters)

A nice article that highlights how massive wind and solar projects, such as this project being built up around Lake Turkana, are dependent on the grid.

Competition for offshore wind ramps up in Massachusetts (AP)

Apple Adds 500MW of Wind and Solar Power in China, Targeting at 2GW (EnergyTrends)

Epistemological and empirical challenges of investigating energy – by Felix Ringel

Anti-wind turbine stickers in Bremerhaven, March 2017

The invitation to this roundtable asked presenters to introduce their own work, show how it relates to energy, and discuss one further aspect of the anthropology of energy, in my case the specific epistemological and empirical challenges of studying energy as an anthropologist. This should raise concerns and questions around fieldwork and methods, and the kind of anthropological knowledge that can be generated when investigating energy.

In response, I here reflect on two questions that, I believe, are at stake in this debate: 1) What can anthropology contribute to interdisciplinary energy studies? 2) How, in turn, can anthropology benefit from taking energy on board? I claim that anthropology contributes not just ‘the social’ to a broader understanding of the role energy plays in the 21st century, but also offers much needed theoretical, analytical and methodological scrutiny and rigor. Similarly, anthropology does not only benefit empirically from studying energy by including an important aspect of reality into its research agenda. It also benefits conceptually by transforming topical and interdisciplinary inspirations into instruments of its analytical toolkit. However, beyond these conceptual concerns, there is undoubtedly an immediate empirical need to study energy because of the changes and challenges in the energy sector, which are having a dramatic impact on contemporary life.

Studying Energy: From Renewable Energies to Urban Sustainability

In my recent work, I have conducted 12 months of fieldwork over the course of three years in Bremerhaven, the centre of Germany’s offshore wind industry. I studied the wholesale transformation of an industrial city suffering from poverty and decline to a postindustrial city that follows the logic of sustainability for its urban regeneration. Sustainability, meanwhile, does not only refer to the locally prominent field of renewable energies, but marks the aim of the transformation: whereas growth guided the development of the industrial city, sustainability aspires to crisis-resistant and stable urban futures. Accordingly, each phase in the city’s history is based on a different energy regime, and each produces specific kinds of practices, affects, subjectivities, and futures. For instance, during fieldwork I was faced with all the hopes and fears that its residents invested in renewable energies, materialized in the many rotor blades, gondolas and tripods produced in Bremerhaven for the emerging offshore windfarms in the German Bay (see picture 1). As elsewhere, in Bremerhaven energy is in more than one way an empirical force to be reckoned with (see pictures 2 and 3). What are the benefits in doing so, and what are the challenges ahead in methodological, analytical and theoretical terms?

There are, in my view, two ways of doing energy anthropology. First, there is the anthropology of energy. As laid out above, this approach responds to the growing awareness and significance of energy concerns with in-depth empirical work, following its own ethical and political imperatives and focusing on everything directly relating to energy: power, infrastructure, consumption, technology, etc. Second, particularly Dominic Boyer and Timothy Mitchell have investigated how this engagement could influence anthropology. How would an anthropology look like that is inspired by ‘energy’ conceptually as well as methodologically? Whereas the first option is well on its way, the second has not yet shown its full impact: apart from some stimulating terms (‘undercurrents’, ‘energopolitics’, ‘carbon democracy’ etc), the potential of ‘energy’ in our professional toolkit is still somewhat lacking. What might these impacts look like?

Energy, Interdisciplinarity and Scientific Self-Scrutiny

First, energy anthropology is by empirical necessity interdisciplinary. It combines and invites a variety of theoretical (and accordingly methodological) approaches: more holistic frameworks deploying insights from posthuman / multispecies / ANT / STS / ontological turns; new vitalisms taking energy seriously on a different level, examining affects / bodies / senses; new materialism in all its disguises as well as political economy and discourse theory considering issues of power, ethics and agency. Furthermore, energy anthropology also invites more reflexivity about our own discipline’s epistemic and conceptual elective affinities with disciplines such as physics and engineering, drawing attention to common 19th and 20th century roots in the conceptualization of science, knowledge, and energy. Energy studies therefore prompt anthropologists to scrutinize their own methods and concepts as well as to experiment with new ones, and at the same time to reach out to other disciplines and intellectual traditions.

Climate City Day; energy pedagogics presentation, June 2014
Climate City Day; energy pedagogics presentation, June 2014

Second, on a more conceptual level, there is currently a more fundamental shift happening – a paradigm shift, if you wish, in the ways many human beings conduct their lives, relate to one another and understand themselves and the world they are living in. The attention paid to energy, particularly to renewable energies, is part and parcel of this shift. In my fieldsite Bremerhaven, for instance, the conceptual or cultural shift of attention away from economic logics of growth towards ecological logics of sustainability is envisioned and realized in terms of offshore wind energy and the fight against climate change. Energy anthropology might provide a privileged vantage point on these broader changes. Dominic Boyer’s hopes for the current 3rd wave of the anthropology of energy seem to point in a similar direction: combining – and bringing to full force – the theoretical strands mentioned above to a clearly defined, eminent empirical phenomenon will open up new conceptual possibilities. For instance, the model of energy (following lines of thought from energy anthropology’s 1st wave) can allow new takes on ‘culture’, ‘sociality’, and – literally – ‘power’. More ecological paradigms might allow for more complexity and other forms of holism in the current studies of human life. These are just two examples of the kinds of conceptual innovation that can stem from engagements with energy.

Conclusion: Entropy / Synergy / Scrutiny

Recent scholarship has shown that energy anthropology is necessarily ecological, global, political, ethical, material, cultural, and it allows new foci in the studies of modernity, infrastructure, agency, and power, to only name a few. What the discipline of anthropology can further contribute to the overall studies of energy will have to be seen, but it will certainly include further conceptual work given the diversity of approaches already applied in the sub-discipline. The only danger I see at this moment is that – as any other conceptual hype – ‘energy’ might become an end in and of itself, embedded in networks of funding and fashion, over which scholars might lose other things out of sight. Although external factors prompt its study, anthropology should continue to scrutinise what energy contributes to its understanding of the world. This scrutiny, I hope, will give anthropology a meaningful voice in and beyond the academy in the debates surrounding energy.

 

Felix Ringel

Inheritance tracks for Energy Anthropology – by Simone Abram

What theoretical legacies does energy anthropology inherit?

Energy Anthropology can draw on a wide range of theoretical and empirical legacies. Direct studies of energy have been part of anthropology, one way or another, from early in its histories.  Nader and Beckerman’s 1978 article on energy and quality of life was a landmark, but it is not only work on energy that offers theoretical legacies for current attention to energy anthropology. My own long-term theoretical interest in studies of science and technology and Actor Network Theory and its various incarnations, is woven through my ethnographic studies of urban professionals and future imaginaries, but it also has direct relevance for my current energy research.

Dr Haiyu Li of Manchester University explains a smart grid system

Research on the imagined medium-term future of municipal plans showed how futures are always only partially imagined, tested and materialised. Exploring the differences between professional or expert formulations of future-oriented trajectories and the responses they generate raises various relevant theoretical and empirical questions. On the one hand, Latour and Woolgar’s ‘Laboratory Life’ offers inspiration for theoretical and methodological approaches to ethnographic research on expert knowledges, showing how labs or other test sites produce what could be called ‘knowledge-texts’ that circulate beyond the lab. On the other hand, references to public knowledge prompts us to consider Gal and Woolard’s enquiry into the concept of ‘public’: if a public is constructed as the counterpart to expertise, it is important to think about who this public might be and why they are imagined in particular ways. Rather than leap to a dichotomy between ‘expert’ and ‘lay’ knowledge, we can use ethnographies such as Eeva Berglund’s now classic ‘Knowing Nature, Knowing Science’ to see how scientific and spiritual concepts and discourses may be taken up and overlaid with different moral and ethical narratives in contests and claims over energy-futures. And as we think about futures, a particularly significant node in the development of future-anthropology is Jane Guyer’s work on future horizons, offering a frame through which to think about the shaping of temporal orientations.

Making tracks for energy anthropology

Methodologically, one of the greatest challenges in energy anthropology lies in finding ways to address expert knowledge without necessarily being enrolled in that knowledge-world entirely. Ethnographic methods generally require the ethnographer to learn the language of the society of study, in order to access the concepts of thought. How, then, might an ethnographer really learn to speak the language of, say, engineering, which students take many years to learn? And how can the technicalities of energy installations be discussed without adopting the language of expertise that goes in to designing them? And how can they be analysed without that technical language? Is it the job of the ethnographer to explain engineering concepts? And if so, how does that then differentiate them from the engineer giving a public-explanation? For me, having completed a 4-year undergraduate engineering degree gives me a certain fluency in the language of engineers, and recent fieldwork has reminded me of how little of this is shared with non-engineers. But having been away from the industry for two decades also helps me to suspend my empathy with engineering approaches to both problem-definition and solutions, to challenge expert knowledges and the assumptions embedded within them. One way to approach these challenges is to pay attention to non-discursive modes of communication and materialities. For this, it is useful to think about Sarah Pink’s work on sensory methods and domestic practices, and Paul Stoller’s work on sensory ethnography. These offer ways to remain alert to how engineers structure, share and use labs, for example, how they conceptualise the relationship of the lab to the world beyond, and its material links through real-time digital simulators, emulated data-streams, real-world objects brought into the lab and so forth.

Where are energy anthropology tracks going?

All this starts to build into a research agenda with broad horizons. My own agenda is focusing around energy ethics, not only in relation to politics and policy, but among engineers. What kind of ethical world is being built among engineers and what happens to their doubts? How are these articulated between disciplines and where is the role for Anthropology? Interdisciplinary collaboration between engineers and economists is well established and raises a number of problematic questions about the kind of moralities that may be established in the interactions between disciplines. In comparison, anthropologists are rather late to carve out a space for anthropology and other social sciences in the energy field, but this does not make it  impossible. Recent collaborations between anthropologists and engineers, such as those we have achieved at Durham University and through the National Centre for Energy Systems Integration, show just how valuable they can be, and how open many engineers are to welcome anthropological insight into what are otherwise ‘wicked’ problems.

 

Berglund, E. K. (1998). Knowing nature, knowing science : an ethnography of environmental activism. Cambridge, White Horse Press.

Gal, S. and K. A. Woolard (2001).  Languages and Publics: The Making of Authority. Manchester and Northampton, Massachusetts, St. Jerome Publishing.

Guyer, J. (2007) Prophecy and the Near Future: Thoughts on macroeconomic, evangelical, and punctuated time. American Ethnologist. 34(3): 409-421.

Latour, B. and S. Woolgar. (1979). Laboratory Life: The Construction of Scientific Facts. Princeton NJ, Princeton University Press.

Nader, L. and S. Beckerman (1978) Energy as it Relates to the Quality and Style of Life. Ann. Rev. Energy. 3: 1-28.

Pink, S. (2009) Doing Sensory Ethnography. London: SAGE,

Stoller, P. (1989). The Taste of Ethnographic Things – The Senses in Anthropology U. Penn Press.

 

CFP – Book on Energy Politics (EASA book series – Berghahn)

Dear Colleagues,

We are looking for contributors to submit abstracts to be included in a book proposal on Energopolitics for the Berghahn EASA book series. 

The edited volume aims to compile cases and analysis dealing with contemporary arrangements of energy infrastructures and political power. We believe that the current transformations of energy systems and policy frameworks offer promising prospects to revisit some of the classic notions of power and politics through the lens of energy infrastructures. Dominique Boyer has underlined the opportunity to rethink Foucault’s theory of power in the light of energy: “there could have been no consolidation of any regime of modern biopower without a parallel securitization of energy provision and synchronization of energy discourse. In this respect, biopower has always been plugged in” (Boyer, 2014:327). Other conceptions of modern politics would also deserve reconsideration, interrogating the entanglements between energy materialities and political power: 

  • State violence and governmentality
  • Statecraft and political ordering
  • Citizenship and collective action,
  • Local governance and politics,
  • Labor struggles within the energy industry,
  • Regional integration and geopolitics,
  • Expert knowledge and depoliticisation, etc.

As an expression of interest, you will find below a suggestion of topics that we would like to address in the book. Abstracts of max. 500 words should be sent to tristan.loloum@durham.ac.uk ; nathalie.ortar@entpe.fr ; simone.abram@durham.ac.uk by Friday 30th June. Please include contact details with the abstract. In the case of acceptance, full papers will be expected by Friday 29th September.

Looking forward for your valuable contribution.

 Kind regards,

Simone Abram, Nathalie Ortar, Tristan Loloum


ENERGOPOLITICS 

CITIZENSHIP, GOVERNMENTALITY AND VIOLENCE ALONG THE GRID 

Editors: Simone ABRAM, Tristan LOLOUM, Nathalie ORTAR

Energy citizenships. The current transformations of energy systems have prompted new discussions among social scientists about power infrastructures as forms and supports of political expression. The evidence of climate change, the development of renewables and the governmental engagements toward an energy transition have created new spaces for resistance, participation and innovation. These emerging energy citizenships include concerns for off-grid systems, the setting up of community renewable energy projects, collective ownership and alternative funding of power infrastructures, equity and justice in energy access, climate change, policies and protests over (non-)renewables, “smart” technologies, etc. While allegedly “empowering” consumers within competitive energy markets, the liberalization of gas and electricity sectors is also dispossessing the State from important prerogatives and strengthening private energy actors. The emergence of decentralized energy and off-grid systems, as substitutes for centralized grids, is not only an engineering challenge but also an organizational one. As electric grids tend to become less “national” and less “centralized”, aren’t they generating more social differentiation?  How do decentralized energy and off-grid initiatives affect local governance, political identities and regional integration?

Energy statecraft. A political anthropology of energy assumes that power infrastructures are pivots for socio-political inquiry, as they have the capacity to “create, destroy, expand or limit the contours of what we call the state” (Meehan, 2014: 2016). In Carbon Democracy, Timothy Mitchell described, for instance, how the late 19th century labor reforms depended on the coal industry and its concentration of unionized workers; how Keynesian welfarism was sustained by an oil-shaped faith in the endless growth of national economies; and how neoliberal politics arose in great part from the brutal disruption of growth caused by the oil shocks of the 1970s. In doing so, he reminds us how statecraft is dependent on systems of energy production.

Energy knowledge. Not only is energy at the core of many economic interests, geopolitical struggles and international relations, it is also central to modernist ideologies and neoliberal narratives. The evolutionist idea that “cultural development varies directly as the amount of energy per capita per year harnessed and put to work” (White, 1943: 338) is deeply rooted in western imaginaries. Electrification is still promoted (e.g. by the UN) as a prerequisite to access both modernity and global markets (Labban, 2012). Energy relies on powerful belief systems and expert knowledge. The expansion of electric grids has often been depicted as an “inevitable” movement by energy experts (Nader, 2004: 775), only limited by technical problems and economic constraints. The practice of “rendering technical” (Li, 2007) has long been essential in the techno-scientific governance of energy, but the disruption of oil shocks, nuclear accidents and climate change have eroded  faith in modern expertise, while the development of renewable energies has shown that new paths of development remain possible. A political anthropology of energy must therefore “analyze the culture of energy experts, enhance knowledge about how people understand and experience energy, and document small renewable energy successes” (Clarke, 2015: 215).

Energy governmentality. Following Boyer (2014) (following Foucault 1978) , the political power behind energy systems – what he calls “energopower” – relies on a mixture of material infrastructures, institutions and discourses of truth. The work of Douglas Rogers (2014) on “social and cultural projects” accomplished under the banner of “corporate social responsibility” (CSR) by the Russian oil-company Lukoil illustrates how energy providers are increasingly solicited to fulfill political missions. Energopolitics refers not only to the capacity of energy corporations to shape basic infrastructures and legal frameworks, but also their involvement in activities of knowledge production, social care and cultural sponsorship. In postcolonial contexts, modern governance of energy resources is often tangled with more direct and authoritarian forms of power. So energopower, as Raminder Kaur argues, should be qualified, from Foucauldian notions of soft power and “governmentality” to what she calls the “necropolitics” or “raw politics of energy” (Kaur, 2013).

References

Boyer, D. (2014) Energopower: an introduction. Anthropological Quarterly 87(2): 309-333.

Clarke, Mari H. (2015) Interrogating Power: Engaged Energy Anthropology, Reviews in Anthropology, 44:4, 202-224, DOI: 10.1080/00938157.2015.1116325

Foucault, Michel. 1978. The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: The Will to Knowledge. London: Penguin.

Kaur, Raminder 2013 ‘Sovereignty without Hegemony, the Nuclear State and a “Secret Public Hearing” in India’, Theory, Culture and Society, May 2013, 20(3).

Labban, M. (2012) Preempting possibility: critical assessment of the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2010. Development and Change 43(1): 375-393.

Li, T. M. (2007) The Will to Improve: Governmentality, Development, and the Practice of Politics. Durham: Duke University Press.

Meehan, K. (2014) Tool-power: Water infrastructure as well springs of state power. Geoforum, 57: 25-224.

Mitchell, T. (2011) Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil. London: Verso Books.

Nader, L. 2004. “The Harder Path—Shifting Gears.” Anthropological Quarterly 77(4):771-791.

Rogers, Douglas. 2014. “Energopolitical Russia: corporation, state, and the rise of social and cultural projects”. Anthropological Quarterly. 87 (2): 431-452.

White, Leslie. 1943. “Energy and the Evolution of Culture.” American Anthropologist 45(3):335-356.

 

 

Weekly Update – June 2nd

I am still struggling a bit with the formatting on the EAN blog, but hopefully will be able to return to that soon. The news today is of course depressing, but also should not be surprising. Regardless, I tend to be a glass is half-full type of person. While I don’t want to minimize the audacity, hubris and nationalist nonsense that emerges on a daily basis from the mouth of “my” president, I would say on the global scale that all is not lost. If anything this may bring the more sane parts of the world closer together…I hope.

Best,
Edwin Schmitt
Postdoctoral Researcher
IKOS
University of Oslo

Here are a few glass half-full articles to start us off:
Despite Trump, cleaner energy growth expected to carry on (AP)
http://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/01/the-associated-press-despite-trump-cleaner-energy-growth-expected-to-carry-on.htmlThe world would be better off if Trump withdraws from the Paris climate deal (The Conversation)
http://theconversation.com/the-world-would-be-better-off-if-trump-withdraws-from-the-paris-climate-deal-78096

But for balance perhaps we do need at least one glass half-empty article. With so much attention paid to the Trump announcement this week, the news that Brexit may also result in reduced renewable energy and energy efficiency targets went almost completely unnoticed:

May’s secret EU mission to weaken climate and energy targets (Energydesk-Greenpeace)
http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2989000/revealed_mays_secret_eu_mission_to_weaken_climate_and_energy_targets.html


Finance
Exxon vote shows Wall Street diverging from Trump on climate change (Reuters)
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-exxonmobil-climate-investors-idUSKBN18R3D6Shell completes divestment of Canadian oil sands assets (Kallanish Energy)
http://www.kallanishenergy.com/2017/06/01/shell-completes-divestment-of-canadian-oil-sands-assets/
For the official announcement see
World Bank to provide Senegal $29 million to bolster oil sector (Reuters)
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-senegal-oil-worldbank-idUSKBN18R35ALand sales surge in Alberta as producers rush into new shale pocket (Reuters)
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-canada-alberta-duvernay-idUSKBN18L2V3


Grid
World’s First Commercial-scale Microgrid Combining Solar, Hydrogen, and Battery Commissioned in Chile (EnergyTrend)
http://pv.energytrend.com/news/World_First_Commercial_scale_Microgrid_Combining_Solar_Hydrogen_and_Battery_Commissioned_in_Chile.htmlFirst Utility-Scale Microgrid in U.S. Enters Service (IEEE)
http://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/energy/the-smarter-grid/first-utilityscale-microgrid-in-us-enters-service
Lot’s of “firsts” in the world of Microgrids this week

Labor
Norway union, oil drilling firms reach wage deal averting strike (Reuters)
http://www.reuters.com/article/norway-oil-strike-idUSL8N1IY544French union says reaches deal to end strike causing fuel shortages (Reuters)
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-petrol-strike-idUSKBN18R38ZNuclear strike averted? Thousands of workers to be balloted over “new and improved” pensions deal (City A.M.)
http://www.cityam.com/265701/nuclear-strike-averted-thousands-workers-balloted-over-new

Pipelines
Canadian oil sector’s Asian ambitions stumble on pipeline resistance (Reuters)
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-canada-energy-pipeline-idUSKBN18R2YXLeaked Documents Reveal Counterterrorism Tactics Used at Standing Rock to “Defeat Pipeline Insurgencies” (The Intercept)
https://theintercept.com/2017/05/27/leaked-documents-reveal-security-firms-counterterrorism-tactics-at-standing-rock-to-defeat-pipeline-insurgencies/Algeria completes new natural gas pipeline (Reuters)
http://www.reuters.com/article/algeria-gas-pipeline-idUSL8N1IY4AWUganda, Tanzania sign deal for world’s longest heated pipeline (Reuters)
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-uganda-pipeline-tanzania-idUSKBN18M0V9


Policy
Brazil’s Eletrobras asks oil regulator to mediate conflict with Petrobras (Reuters)
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-eletrobras-supply-petrobras-idUSKBN18S69EIndia to be first in world to run all government ports on green energy (India Times)
http://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/india-to-be-first-in-world-to-run-all-government-ports-on-green-energy/58921374Kremlin aide rules out Russian energy sector privatizations (Reuters)
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-economic-forum-privatisation-b-idUSKBN18S58FBurundi paralyzed by fuel shortages as leaders blame lack of dollars (Reuters)
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-burundi-oil-idUSKBN18Q1RN

Pakistanis protest against increasing power cuts during Ramadan (Reuters)
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-electricity-idUSKBN18Q17N

Nigeria oil governance bill aims to break up state oil company NNPC (Reuters)
http://www.reuters.com/article/nigeria-oil-idUSL8N1IS2IW


Transportation
Do not block Chinese electric car firms, India urged (India Times)
http://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/do-not-block-chinese-electric-car-firms-india-urged/58930391Samsung SDI Completes EV Battery Factory in Hungary (EnergyTrend)
http://www.energytrend.com/news/Samsung_SDI_Completes_EV_Battery_Factory_in_Hungary.htmlChina’s Guangzhou to replace buses with ‘new energy’ vehicles (IANS)
http://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/chinas-guangzhou-to-replace-buses-with-new-energy-vehicles/58911176Robocars And Electricity—a Match Made in Heaven (IEEE)
http://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/self-driving/why-robocars-will-run-on-electricity

ACME launches India’s first electric vehicle charging station (India Times)
http://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/acme-launches-indias-first-electric-vehicle-charging-station/58897254


Coal
South Korea to suspend eight older coal-fired power plants to tackle pollution (Reuters)
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-coal-idUSKBN18Q041Stream rule dies, but ex-miners keep fighting (E&E News)
https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060054890This is our home. We don’t want to live nowhere else (E&E News)
https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060054972

These two stories are part of a continuing expose on Coal Country in the USA. Very intimate interviews, excellent reporting.

Coal India to focus on marketing, renames sales and marketing wing (India Times)
http://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/coal/coal-india-to-focus-on-marketing-renames-sales-and-marketing-wing/58927303


Gas
Boosting renewable energy sources requires gas too (Reuters)
http://www.reuters.com/article/usa-property-coned-energy-idUSL1N1IY1DK

Bill banning onshore fracking passed by Dáil (Irish Times)
http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/oireachtas/bill-banning-onshore-fracking-passed-by-d%C3%A1il-1.3103027


Hydropower
Hydro power generation precedes monsoon; jumps by 30% (India Times)
http://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/hydro-power-generation-precedes-monsoon-jumps-by-30/58946892

Nuclear

India and Russia ink key pact for 2 nuclear power units in Kudankulum (India Times)
http://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/india-and-russia-ink-key-pact-for-2-nuclear-power-units-in-kudankulum/58950548


Petroleum

Leave oil rigs in the North Sea, say conservationists (Guardian)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/29/leave-oil-rigs-in-north-sea-say-conservationists

Ohio finds improper hydrocarbons in ETP Rover drilling fluid (Reuters)
http://www.reuters.com/article/usa-energytransfer-rover-idUSL1N1IY21C

Oil tanker attacked in key shipping lane off Yemen (Reuters)
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-shipping-attack-idUSKBN18R2N9



Solar
Billionaire Ex-Oilman Plans 1st Nonstop World Solar Flight (Bloomberg)
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-25/billionaire-ex-oilman-plans-1st-nonstop-round-world-solar-flight

Syria opens its first solar-powered hospital aiming to save more lives (Reuters)
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-syria-solar-power-idUSKBN18R2KJ

Rural India needs solar power for more than just lighting, study finds (Reuters)
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-solar-scale-idUSKBN18R21U

Array Technologies to Supply Tracking Solution for Facebook Facility (Reuters)
http://pv.energytrend.com/news/Array_Technologies_to_Supply_Tracking_Solution_for_Facebook_Facility.html

Antofagasta sells solar park stake in Chile, calls for power auction (Reuters)
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-antofagasta-actis-idUSKBN18Q2H1

U.S. may put emergency tariffs on solar imports (Reuters)
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-solar-wto-idUSKBN18P1JL

CFP for ERSS: Problems of method in the social study of energy and climate change

CFP for Energy Research and Social Science

https://www.journals.elsevier.com/energy-research-and-social-science/call-for-papers/problems-of-method-in-the-social-study-of-energy-and-climate 

Edited by James Goodman and Jonathan Paul Marshall, University of Technology Sydney

Energy and climate change are intimately related, as the main causes of climate change have to do with the production, politics, organisation and technology of energy. Social processes, rooted in prevailing models of capitalism and development, and the associated patterns of energyproduction and use, are altering world ecology and society. Researching questions of energy transition and climate change, poses profound questions for the methods of both social science and energy research.

This Special Issue aims to explore insights arising from how we go about researching energy and climate change from a social perspective. The questions and dilemmas that arise during research are both significant in themselves, and highly revealing of wider issues. Consequently we ask contributors to begin with their direct experience of undertaking research into the social aspects of energy and climate, and to use that experience, and the problems of method evoked, to explore the conundrums we face as part of a wider society being transformed by climate change and related forms of social action.

There are several matters which immediately call for attention:

  1. There are questions about the role of interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary or multi-methods research in grappling with interwoven socio-ecological contexts and their different knowledges;
  2. The extent to which climate and energy research necessarily engages with normative priorities and agendas for political agency, such as the politicization of knowledge;
  3. The degree to which the abstracted and distanced character of climate change creates conflicts between levels and aspects of social action.

There are also more practical issues such as:

  1. How to combine ecological processes with social processes;
  2. How to relate the qualitative experience of climate change with the quantitative ‘big data’ of climate science; and
  3. Problems of how to build methods of data collection and analysis in complex, multileveled situations.

This list of possible concerns is not meant to be exhaustive, but all these concerns engage, in one way or another, with the wider methodological and epistemological questions of how social scientists can bring the socio-ecological imagination to bear, to address the political relations between energy and climate change, and be sensitive to the consequences of the tools they employ. We are interested in papers from all kinds of social and cross-disciplinary research, including anthropology, economics, social psychology, political economy, statistical sociology, political science, cultural studies, social ecology, human geography, social studies of science and their various combinations.

Ideally papers would show how issues of method or methodology transformed a particular empirical study and opened insights into the nature of the social, and other, dynamics involved.

Time Table

Abstracts to be in by August 1st, 2017. Notification of acceptance by August 15th, 2017.

Papers due by November 1st, 2017, or earlier.

Final decision: June 1st, 2018.

Publication around July, 2018.

 

Please send abstracts to: jon.marshall@uts.edu.au & james.goodman@uts.edu.au

Call for Abstracts: 2nd Africa-EU Renewable Energy Research and Innovation Symposium (RERIS) 2018

2nd Africa-EU Renewable Energy Research and Innovation Symposium (RERIS) 2018

23-27 January 2018, National University of Lesotho

On occasion of NULSTICE 2018

 

Background

With more than 600 million Africans living without access to electricity and over 730 million relying on dangerous, inefficient forms of cooking, fast but sustainable development of African renewable energy markets is needed. Applied research and innovative business roll-outs play a key role in boosting this development, helping to secure energy supply in both rural and urban areas, increase generation capacities and energy system resilience. In March 2016, the RECP organized the first Africa-EU Renewable Energy Research and Innovation Symposium (RERIS 2016) in Tlemcen, Algeria. Attended by 135 participants from 30 countries, the symposium was a big step towards better research cooperation for renewable energy on and between the two continents.

 

Symposium scope and objectives

Based on the outcomes of the first symposium, the Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme (RECP) and the National University of Lesotho (NUL) are jointly organising the second Africa-EU Symposium on Renewable Energy Research and Innovation (RERIS 2018) from 23–27 January 2018 in Maseru, Lesotho. The symposium will take place on the occasion of the NUL International Science and Technology Innovation Conference and Expo (NULSTICE 2018).

The objectives of the research symposium are to

  • Facilitate Africa-EU renewable energy research collaboration
  • Increase public and private sector participation in renewable energy research
  • Build capacities for applied research and promote university business spin-offs

A call for abstracts is preceding the symposium, targeting researchers from Africa and Europe involved in research or business roll-outs on the following topics:

  • Grid connected renewable energy
  • Decentralised renewable and household energy solutions
  • Energy socioeconomics (e.g. policy, economics, legal, regulatory and social issues)
  • Promotion of energy research, innovation, education and entrepreneurship

For more info on the symposium and call for abstracts, visit http://www.nulistice.org.ls/

Symposium organisers and partners (tbc) 

  • LCEDN (Low Carbon Energy for Development Network)
  • Micro Energy International
  • PAU (Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences)
  • RECP (Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme)
  • UniPID (Finnish University Partnership for International Development)

 

Symposium committee

Conference chair

  • Dr Moeketsi Mpholo, Energy Research Centre (ERC) / National University of Lesotho (NUL)

Scientific committee

  • Benmansour Abdelhalim, Université Aboubekr Belkaid de Tlemcen, Algeria
  • Venkata Ramayya Ancha, Jimma University, Ethiopia
  • Dr Ed Brown, Loughborough University, United Kingdom
  • Thameur Chaibi, National Research Institute for Rural Engineering, Water and Forestry, Tunisia
  • Seladji Chakib, Université Aboubekr Belkaid de Tlemcen, Algeria
  • Dr Zivaye Chiguvare, Namibia University of Science and Technology, Namibia
  • Emanuela Colombo, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
  • Abdellah Khellaf, Centre de Développement des Energies Renouvelables, Algeria
  • Izael Pereira Da Silva, Strathmore University, Kenya
  • Daniel  Egbe, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria
  • Thomas Hamacher, Technische Universität München, Germany
  • Angeles López Agüera, UNESCO-CLRLA / Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  • Martin Meyer-Renschhausen, Hochschule Darmstadt, Germany tbc
  • Dr Joseph Mutale, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
  • Wikus van Niekerk, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  • Armando C. Oliveira, University of Porto, Portugal
  • Marco Rupprich, MCI – The Entrepreneurial School®, Austria
  • Wim Sinke, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands tbc
  • Abdelilah Slaoui, University of Strasbourg, France
  • Anthony Staak, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), South Africa tbc
  • Dr Dirk Steuerwald, Swiss Academy for Development, Switzerland
  • Dr Sandor Szabo, European Commission Joint Research Centre, Italy
  • Dr Zak Thamae, National University of Lesotho (NUL), Lesotho
  • Dr Daniel Yamegueu, International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering (2iE), Burkina Faso
  • Abdellatif Zerga, Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences (PAUWES), Algeria

Organising committee

  • Niklas Hayek, Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme (RECP)
  • Himanshu Narayan, National University of Lesotho (NUL)
  • Dr Thimothy Thamae, National University of Lesotho (NUL)

 

2 PhD studentships + 2 part-time post-doctoral posts at Durham University

 

Two PhD studentships at Durham Anthropology

Two PhD studentships in the dept of Anthropology at Durham University to start in October 2017:

 – Energy and Heritage Conservation: the project will focus on sites of significant conservation challenges that can also be used to promote new energy technologies and practices. Supported by Historic England
– Ethical design for energy systems: The project will examine where and how normative assumptions are embedded in energy systems design and how ethical discourses can be developed to highlight the implications of energy system design. Supported by Ofgem.
Applications should be made through the ‘Northern Bridge’ website below, and project outlines and guidance are attached. Applicants are encouraged to contact the lead academic for the relevant projects prior to making an application.  Deadline for applications 30 June 2017.

We would be very grateful for any assistance in alerting potential students for this urgent call for applications.

Two part-time post-doctoral posts at Durham Anthropology

 Dept of Anthropology and Durham Energy Institute at Durham are pleased to invite applications for two new part-time post-doctoral posts that could be combined into one 3-year post-doctoral fellowship.

One post is a PDRA in energy systems integration. The post is funded through the £20m National Centre for Energy Systems Integration (CESI), funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Siemens and Newcastle University. The research fellow will work with Dr Simone Abram applying principles and approaches of Science and Technology Studies to the energy systems modelling process. They will work closely with other centre researchers in assessing the limitations and ethics of energy-systems modelling, exploring solutions to lacunas in whole-system models and assessing the ethical implications of modelling choices for future system-users. This work will contribute to a whole-systems architecture, ensuring that insights from social science and policy analysis are integrated through the centre’s activities. It will draw on the work of the End-Use-Energy-Demand centres across all disciplines. The fellowship will include a period of ethnographic fieldwork on smart grid experimentation.

The other post is to assist in developing case study projects associated with an Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliance between 4 European universities and partners, in Amsterdam, Prague and Lubljana (people-project.net<http://people-project.net/>). The researcher will report to Dr Simone Abram and Prof Sandra Bell, managing co-creation camps, liaising with industry partners and international partners.

Enquiries should be addressed to Dr Simone Abram at the address below.

http://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/BBO860/post-doctoral-research-associate-in-anthropology/

http://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/BBP199/post-doctoral-research-associate