There is widespread agreement about the importance of flexibility in the energy sector. But what does flexibility mean? In our recent blog post for the CREDS website (https://www.creds.ac.uk/the-fixity-of-flexibility/), Elizabeth Shove and I identify three common interpretations. These include definitions of flexibility as a feature of whole energy systems; as a commodity that figures in energy markets; and as an outcome of specific interventions in supply or demand.
We suggest that all three interpretations rest on assumptions about the extent and character of energy demand and that some have the perverse consequence of fixing ideas about societal needs and limiting the forms of ‘flexibility’ that are discussed. As well as articulating some of the rigidities in debates about flexibility, we point towards a more ambitious agenda capable of engaging with significant changes concerning what energy is for and how it is provided.
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