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Energy and equity revisited: Examining local approaches to energy justice through community renewables development in Wales

Forman, Alister 2020. Energy and equity revisited: Examining local approaches to energy justice through community renewables development in Wales. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Whilst calls for energy justice have grown, fleeting attention has been paid to the role and agency of the very people at the heart of this agenda. Most understandings of energy justice embrace the 'triumvirate of tenets', encompassing distributive, recognition, and procedural justice. But, despite this promising start, energy justice research has engaged little with community-scale and participatory approaches to the enactment of energy justice on the ground. The concepts and practices of ‘community renewable energy’ present one such arena within which energy justice might be enacted at a local level in a bottom-up approach. However, existing research on community renewables tends to assume, or provide largely anecdotal evidence for, the benefits and outcomes associated with such projects, whilst the nature of community renewables as an ongoing, temporal process is poorly understood. These are important issues to understand from the perspective of justice. This thesis aims to examine the complex, differential ways that community renewables are implicated in negotiating greater social justice within and beyond the energy sector. In turn, it seeks to understand the relevance and consequences of these issues for dominant perspectives on energy justice. It does so by mobilising a cross-sectoral, qualitative analysis of the community renewables sector in Wales. Findings show community renewables are highly relevant for improving access to pro-justice outcomes, such as through acting on the impacts of austerity, improving local economic opportunities, and promoting environmentalism and stewardship of natural resources. They also reveal novel insights on community renewables as an ongoing, temporal process which does not simply end after a project is developed. Moreover, it shows that key approaches to energy justice are intellectually ill-equipped to account for the relevance of issues beyond the energy system as potential drivers or outcomes of energy actions. A broader approach to energy justice is thus required.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords: energy justice, community energy, community renewables, just energy transitions, participatory action research, temporality, Wales, equity, energy ownership, community benefits
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 November 2020
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2020 09:46

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