STS - conferences, IST2012

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Energy transition towards the inclusion of local stakeholders in cities
Sophie NEMOZ

Last modified: 2012-03-19


Technical innovation is a central process to meet growing demand for energy amidst concern about the safety of supplies and appeals for environmental protection. The spectres of climate change and natural resource depletion create an urgent need to change our ways of living in urban societies. At the moment, most energy efficiency promotion schemes are targeted at individual consumers and households. Whilst this can be effective, it can be more efficient to treat the energy efficiency upgrading of buildings as a local infrastructure problem, and to gain efficiency savings by focusing resources on a single area for a short period, in order to install energy efficient equipment and community owned micro generation like biomass boilers, CHP, solar panels or domestic windmills within a street. Furthermore, focusing on a community-wide approach can help to create incentives for people to work together to improve efficiency, as well as building common awareness of the importance of climate change mitigation efforts. Such engagement is particularly important for those at risk of social exclusion who must be given a proper chance to participate through capacity building. Thus, street-by-street energy efficiency roll-out schemes are viewed by many as the best means to deliver the scale and pace of change required by the environmental and fuel poverty issues.

In this session we will discuss possibilities, chances, limits, critical aspects and utopias of these alternative ways of negotiating the relations between the social and the ecological spheres. To start, our presentation aims to overview research findings from various urban energy case studies. Additionally, the theoretical perspective of sociotechnical transitions will be applied to street-by-street energy efficiency roll-out schemes and their community-wide approach. And finally recommendations will be based on the debate on policy instruments which was organized in 2011 with Belgian academics and local government experts.