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Journal Articles Energy Research & Social Science Year : 2018

Spatialities of the energy transition: Intensive sites making earth matter?


An increansing number of quantitative works stresses that a main driver of land use change is the ongoing large scale development of renewable energies. Taking this observation seriously, the paper's aim is to investigate the critical interactions with earth forces (soil, climate, ocean, air, etc.) that ensue from the progressive dissemination and scaling up of wind power projects. It is to assess how the wind power expansion makes earth matter and if innovative earth politics emerge from these entanglements with these forces. The paper assumes that sites have a strategic role as it cannot be learned from these entanglements everywhere. To this end, it proposes to articulate Simondon's spatial approach to the emergence of technological objects (from 'intensive' to 'extensive' sites) with Latour's approach to the politics of Gaïa through the notion of 'critical zone'. Two onshore and offshore wind power cases (France and Germany) are studied. Their spatial expansion interferes with polymorphous earth intensities (e.g. strong marine currents, coastal fish highways, moving seabed, large bird migrations), and raises critical issues about the fragmentation of the ecosystems. They point out the fact that these earth forces when observed, monitored and discussed could open the way to local experiments that provide them with a new relational existence and a new political status. Drawing on these observations, the paper challenges Simondon's approach to extensive diffusion of technological objects and emphasises that intensive relational work could as well underpin the expansion of technological objects. It also expands Latour's notion of critical zone in pointing out that projects scene are related to broader large scale environments.
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hal-01785025 , version 1 (04-05-2018)



Olivier Labussiere, Alain Nadaï. Spatialities of the energy transition: Intensive sites making earth matter?. Energy Research & Social Science, 2018, 36, pp.120-128. ⟨10.1016/j.erss.2017.11.006⟩. ⟨hal-01785025⟩
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