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Urban wind energy experiments as pathways to urban energy transitions

  • 1 March, 2020
  • Wageningen University, Environmental Policy
  • prof. dr SR Bush
  • S Kloppenburgdr M. Smits

In their attempt to reduce the environmental footprint and reliance on fossil fuels, cities all over the world have taken a wide range of measures, from increasing energy-efficiency of buildings to the development of renewables-based energy systems. In recent years, an increasing number of city governments have demonstrated interest in integrating wind turbines in urban environments. Although urban wind energy projects hold great promise, their number remains limited. Therefore, they could be viewed as real-world interventions rather than established technologies.

Infrastructural interventions such as urban wind turbines make the inner working of urban sociotechnical systems visible and highlight gaps and interstices in infrastructural systems. Furthermore, the presence of wind turbines in cities reminds both urban authorities and urban dwellers about the environmental costs of energy production and consumption. At the same time, urban wind energy experiments provide evidence of how innovative projects might be put into practice, and how various technical, social, and political challenges associated with them might be overcome. Thus, by rendering energy infrastructures more visible and practical, urban wind energy interventions allow to test various pathways to urban sustainability and enable experimentation with the design of urban built environment, modes of local governance, forms of citizen engagement in urban planning, etc.. As a result, they put established energy production networks under pressure to transform and form a new, more sustainable system. In seeking to understand the dynamics of urban wind energy experiments, the PhD project aims to study wider impacts of urban wind energy experiments and examine under what conditions urban wind energy experiments might serve as the catalyst for urban energy transitions.

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Iryna Lunevich

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