GEOGRAPHIES OF ENERGY TRANSITION

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Environment, Education and Development

Abstract

Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The seminar series confirmed the 'working hypothesis' that lay behind our initial proposal: that there are elements of convergence between human geography and energy studies in that both now identify a need to better understand the spatiality of energy transition. The seminar series explored this convergence intensively, through discussion of a rich selection technologies, practices, infrastructures and geographical contexts. Emerging from this discussion are a number of key points:

• Climate change, energy security and the depletion of conventional oil reserves are re-working established patterns and scales of energy supply, distribution and consumption. Meeting the challenges of climate change and energy security is fundamentally a geographical project: it not only requires societies to commit massive investment to redesign infrastructure, buildings and equipment, but also to make choices form a range of possible spatial solutions and scales of governance. Energy transition is one of contending geographical futures.



• 'Global' energy challenges are constituted through particular geographies. Understanding the nature of the 'energy dilemma,' therefore, requires engaging with the way energy activities are distributed across a given space (eg the UK), the underlying processes that give rise to these patterns, and the geographical connections and interactions between that space and other spaces (ie the UK's position in a wider political economy of states, transnational firms, international agreements, and non-governmental organisations).



• 'Energy transition' and the nature of the 'energy dilemma' mean quite different things in different settings and at different scales (e.g. household, urban, regional, global). There are significant connections between these scales and settings, however. For example, global greenhouse gas emissions are linked in significant ways to the manufacturing of a standard 'indoor' climate in offices and homes; while UK efforts to reduce emissions from power production through co-firing with imported biofuels can undermine the energy security of small-holders in developing economies.



• Much recent work on energy transition pays limited attention to questions of scale and space, but popular debate (over wind farms, gas pipelines, or household micro-generation, for example) often centres on geographical elements of continuity and change associated with a low-carbon energy transition.



The seminar series has helped to delineate a field of 'energy geographies' which is now being taken forward through the RGS-IBG Energy Geographies Working Group. Through the seminars, participants unpacked the meaning of geographies and the significance of a spatial perspective for thinking through energy transition. Seven core elements emerged:



• Location: energy systems are constituted spatially and embedded in particular settings; the result is a geography of connection/disconnection, dependency/independence.



• Landscape: 'energy landscape' refers to an assemblage of natural and cultural features across a broad space. Like urban or economic landscapes, they are products of social processes and the outcome of negotiation among different groups.



• Territoriality: captures the way economic and political power is organised and exercised over space, and allows for consideration of the geographical strategies of partition and integration (separation and connection) employed by firms and states around energy.



• Uneven Development/Spatial Differentiation: some of the processes associated with (low-carbon) energy transition will promote convergence across space, while others will promote divergence and the production of difference.



• Scaling: the scale of energy infrastructures and governance structures has evolved over time.



• Spatial lock-in/path dependency: incumbent energy systems are embedded in space via the sunk costs of investment (for example, in infrastructure) and via cultural expectations/norms about cost, reliability, acceptability). The degree of geographical lock-in can be a significant influence on transition.



• Participation and publics: the governance of energy transitions requires a specific set of institutional, social and technical configurations
Exploitation Route Thinking about energy 'transition' as a process unfolding across and through spatial arrangements changes the types of questions that become important for researchers to ask. Findings from this project on the spatialities of energy transition may be taken forward, therefore, through new research to examine the geographical implications of new energy technologies and infrastructures. Findings may also be of interest to - and taken forward by - policy makers concerned to better understand the socio-spatial consequences of changes in energy resources and technologies, such as the geopolitical implications of fuel switching in the electricity generating sector.
Sectors Education,Energy,Environment

URL http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/geography/research/projects/energytransition
 
Description The Seminar Series grant spawned a set of wider activities, including the formation of an Energy Geographies Working Group within the Royal Geographical Society - Institute of British Geographers which subsequently became a full, permanent Research Group. Through the RGS-IBG, the Energy Geographies Research Group has engaged with a range of third sector, policy and educational (secondary, FE, HE) audiences to better understand the spatial dimensions (place-impacts, uneven geographical outcomes) of energy transition.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Education,Energy
Impact Types Societal

 
Description British Council Newton Fund Researcher Links
Amount £32,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 204499141 
Organisation British Council 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2016 
End 09/2016
 
Description Geopolitical Economy and Energy System Transformation
Amount £8,762,213 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/S029575/1 
Organisation UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2019 
End 05/2024
 
Description Investigating residential and business energy consumption via student-led action research
Amount £30,000 (GBP)
Organisation Higher Education Academy 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2012 
End 02/2013
 
Description Investigating residential and business energy consumption via student-led action research
Amount £30,000 (GBP)
Organisation Higher Education Academy 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2012 
End 09/2013
 
Description Teaching energy issues in geography, earth and environmental science disciplines
Amount £1,000 (GBP)
Organisation Higher Education Academy 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2012 
End 06/2012
 
Description Teaching energy issues in geography, earth and environmental science disciplines
Amount £1,000 (GBP)
Organisation Higher Education Academy 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2012 
End 05/2012
 
Description The Geopolitical Economy of Global Gas Security and Governance: Implications for the UK
Amount £316,894 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/J006009/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2011 
End 04/2014
 
Description If not now, when? : geography, energy studies and the spatialities of energy transition 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Plenary Address, invited by the Energy and Environment Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012