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Reconfiguring actors and infrastructure in city renewable energy transitions: A regional perspective

September 10, 2021

What are the new roles of regional actors, locations of productivity, interscalar relationships, and socio-economic outcomes for city renewable energy transitions? CSSN Scholar Christina Hoicka et al.’s new paper explores these questions conceptually and empirically.

Read the article in Energy Policy.

Highlights

  • Cities important spatially and materially in a renewable energy transition.
  • A conceptual framework to analyse emerging plans for material- and place-based actor scalar strategies.
  • Regions are important emerging actors in the decentralization of renewable energy systems.
  • This transition can affect socio-economic outcomes and relationships between cities and surrounding regions.

Abstract

Cities as large centres of energy demand and population are important spatially and materially in a renewable energy transition. This study draws on available literature on material dimensions, energy decentralization, and regional approaches to provide a conceptual framework to analyse emerging city renewable energy transition plans for their material- and place-based actor scalar strategies. This framework outlines how the increase in renewable energy provided to cities results in new locations of productivity, interscalar relationships between new and centralized actors, and socio-economic outcomes. We use this to analyse 47 ambitious renewable energy transition plans in densely populated cities. Empirically, this study confirms that, for the most part, regions are important emerging actors in the decentralization of energy systems in a renewable energy transition; that city renewable energy transitions involve the forging of new economic relationships between cities and neighbouring communities and regions, and, as the community energy literature emphasises, that the involvement of a wide range of civic and local actors is important in shaping renewable energy transitions for cities. Further research can investigate how the institutional context is shaping these distinct actor material strategies and emerging interscalar relationships across regions. The socio-economic outcomes, particularly as they relate to new economic relationships between cities and the surrounding region and the re-spatialization of productivity and benefits, should also be examined.

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