Advanced

Who owns the wind? : community wind co-ops to combat commodification

Wade, Robert LU (2017) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM02 20171
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
The threat of potentially catastrophic climate change has led to 195 countries pledging to keep global average temperature rise well below 2°C based on pre-industrial levels. Wind energy technology has developed to a point where it can make a significant contribution to meeting this objective. A number of countries have developed substantial wind energy networks in recent years which in turn has attracted much scholarship. The environmental impacts of wind energy technology have been the subject of considerable scientific scrutiny. However, the social implications have often been examined in terms of people’s different responses or ‘attitudes’ to wind energy, with the underlying aim to achieve ‘social acceptance’. In this thesis, I take an... (More)
The threat of potentially catastrophic climate change has led to 195 countries pledging to keep global average temperature rise well below 2°C based on pre-industrial levels. Wind energy technology has developed to a point where it can make a significant contribution to meeting this objective. A number of countries have developed substantial wind energy networks in recent years which in turn has attracted much scholarship. The environmental impacts of wind energy technology have been the subject of considerable scientific scrutiny. However, the social implications have often been examined in terms of people’s different responses or ‘attitudes’ to wind energy, with the underlying aim to achieve ‘social acceptance’. In this thesis, I take an alternative perspective: I contend that the technological fix discourse which often accompanies wind energy technology masks the social relations underpinning the deployment of these technologies. Using the lens of commodification, I argue that commodity relations have underscored the deployment of much onshore wind capacity. Through this examination I ‘de-reify’ these relations and normatively critique them based on their consequences for society. These include, but are not restricted to, economic inequality, cultural landscape deterioration and degradation of community ties. By showing that these relations are neither natural nor necessary but social and contingent, I open the door for alternative social relations that might abate the negative impacts stemming from commodification. After unpacking different forms of community energy, I argue that community wind energy co-ops can be conceived of as a practice of ‘commoning’. This claim is illustrated with fieldwork on the Aran Islands Energy Coop off the West of Ireland. The logic of commoning is counterposed to that of commodification and can provide a viable alternative that can use wind energy technology while avoiding the undesirable social consequences stemming from commodification. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Wade, Robert LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM02 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
wind energy, commodification, commons, social consequences, reification, cooperative, sustainability science
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2017:017
language
English
id
8916934
date added to LUP
2017-06-21 16:07:53
date last changed
2017-06-21 16:07:53
@misc{8916934,
  abstract     = {The threat of potentially catastrophic climate change has led to 195 countries pledging to keep global average temperature rise well below 2°C based on pre-industrial levels. Wind energy technology has developed to a point where it can make a significant contribution to meeting this objective. A number of countries have developed substantial wind energy networks in recent years which in turn has attracted much scholarship. The environmental impacts of wind energy technology have been the subject of considerable scientific scrutiny. However, the social implications have often been examined in terms of people’s different responses or ‘attitudes’ to wind energy, with the underlying aim to achieve ‘social acceptance’. In this thesis, I take an alternative perspective: I contend that the technological fix discourse which often accompanies wind energy technology masks the social relations underpinning the deployment of these technologies. Using the lens of commodification, I argue that commodity relations have underscored the deployment of much onshore wind capacity. Through this examination I ‘de-reify’ these relations and normatively critique them based on their consequences for society. These include, but are not restricted to, economic inequality, cultural landscape deterioration and degradation of community ties. By showing that these relations are neither natural nor necessary but social and contingent, I open the door for alternative social relations that might abate the negative impacts stemming from commodification. After unpacking different forms of community energy, I argue that community wind energy co-ops can be conceived of as a practice of ‘commoning’. This claim is illustrated with fieldwork on the Aran Islands Energy Coop off the West of Ireland. The logic of commoning is counterposed to that of commodification and can provide a viable alternative that can use wind energy technology while avoiding the undesirable social consequences stemming from commodification.},
  author       = {Wade, Robert},
  keyword      = {wind energy,commodification,commons,social consequences,reification,cooperative,sustainability science},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {Who owns the wind? : community wind co-ops to combat commodification},
  year         = {2017},
}