Advanced

Modernist dreams and green sagas : The neoliberal politics of Iceland’s renewable energy economy

Guðmundsdottir, Hrönn; Carton, Wim LU ; Busch, Henner LU and Ramasar, Vasna LU (2018) In Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space 1(4). p.579-601
Abstract
Transitioning to renewable energy is an imperative to help mitigate climate change, but such transitions are inevitably embedded in broader socio-ecological and political dynamics. Recent scholarship has focused on these more-than-technological dimensions of energy transitions to help understand their promises and drawbacks. This article contributes to this research agenda by highlighting the importance of considering not only who benefits from renewable energy development, but also what renewable energy is for. We analyse two cases in Iceland, the Kárahnjúkar hydropower project and Hellisheiði geothermal energy plant, in which renewable energy was used to attract heavy industry investments in the form of aluminium smelters. Attractive... (More)
Transitioning to renewable energy is an imperative to help mitigate climate change, but such transitions are inevitably embedded in broader socio-ecological and political dynamics. Recent scholarship has focused on these more-than-technological dimensions of energy transitions to help understand their promises and drawbacks. This article contributes to this research agenda by highlighting the importance of considering not only who benefits from renewable energy development, but also what renewable energy is for. We analyse two cases in Iceland, the Kárahnjúkar hydropower project and Hellisheiði geothermal energy plant, in which renewable energy was used to attract heavy industry investments in the form of aluminium smelters. Attractive regulatory conditions in the form of ‘minimal red tape’, low electricity prices and an industry-friendly tax regime led to significant profits for the aluminium industry but questionable benefits for the state and the people of Iceland. Renewable energy development in this way put Iceland's nature to use for private gain, while marginalizing alternative ideas of what that nature is for. Our analysis underlines the need to pursue perspectives that recognize the complex political and socio-ecological nature of energy systems, which includes attention to the political economy of industrial energy consumption. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space
volume
1
issue
4
pages
23 pages
DOI
10.1177/2514848618796829
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
ecb388b7-accb-48a0-aa55-9e30564a88c3
date added to LUP
2018-09-04 10:02:05
date last changed
2018-12-12 09:20:49
@article{ecb388b7-accb-48a0-aa55-9e30564a88c3,
  abstract     = {Transitioning to renewable energy is an imperative to help mitigate climate change, but such transitions are inevitably embedded in broader socio-ecological and political dynamics. Recent scholarship has focused on these more-than-technological dimensions of energy transitions to help understand their promises and drawbacks. This article contributes to this research agenda by highlighting the importance of considering not only who benefits from renewable energy development, but also what renewable energy is for. We analyse two cases in Iceland, the Kárahnjúkar hydropower project and Hellisheiði geothermal energy plant, in which renewable energy was used to attract heavy industry investments in the form of aluminium smelters. Attractive regulatory conditions in the form of ‘minimal red tape’, low electricity prices and an industry-friendly tax regime led to significant profits for the aluminium industry but questionable benefits for the state and the people of Iceland. Renewable energy development in this way put Iceland's nature to use for private gain, while marginalizing alternative ideas of what that nature is for. Our analysis underlines the need to pursue perspectives that recognize the complex political and socio-ecological nature of energy systems, which includes attention to the political economy of industrial energy consumption.},
  author       = {Guðmundsdottir, Hrönn and Carton, Wim and Busch, Henner and Ramasar, Vasna},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {12},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {579--601},
  series       = {Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space},
  title        = {Modernist dreams and green sagas : The neoliberal politics of Iceland’s renewable energy economy},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2514848618796829},
  volume       = {1},
  year         = {2018},
}