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Visible technologies, invisible organisations: An empirical study of public beliefs about electricity supplies.

Devine-Wright, Patrick, Devine-Wright, Hannah and Sherry-Brennan, Fionnguala 2010. Visible technologies, invisible organisations: An empirical study of public beliefs about electricity supplies. Energy Policy 38 (8) , pp. 4127-4134. 10.1016/j.enpol.2010.03.039

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Reducing carbon emissions in the energy system poses significant challenges to electricity transmission and distribution networks. Whilst these challenges are as much social as economic or technical, to date few research studies have investigated public beliefs about electricity supply networks. This research aimed to address this gap by means of a nationally representative study of UK adults (n=1041), probing beliefs about how electricity reaches the home, responsibility for electricity supply, associations with the words ‘National Grid’, as well as beliefs about the planning of new infrastructure. Findings suggest that electricity networks are represented predominantly in terms of technologies rather than organisations, specifically in terms of familiar, visible components such as cables or wires, rather than more systemic concepts such as networks. Transmission and distribution network operators were largely invisible to members of the public. In terms of planning new lines, most respondents assumed that government ministers were involved in decision-making, while local residents were widely perceived to have little influence; moreover, there was strong public support for placing new power lines underground, regardless of the cost. In conclusion, organisational invisibility, coupled with low expectations of participatory involvement, could provoke public opposition and delay siting new network infrastructure.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Uncontrolled Keywords: Electricity supply networks; Public beliefs; Planning
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0301-4215
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2019 09:07

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