CfP – Special Issue – ‘Histories of Flexibility’

Events, Uncategorized, Update

Histories of Flexibility

Special Issue

Journal of Energy History / Revue d’histoire de l’énergie (JEHRHE)

 

Co-Editors:

Peter Forman (Lancaster University)

Stanley Blue (Lancaster University)

Elizabeth Shove (Lancaster University)

Description:

Over the last five years, flexibility has emerged as a key topic in academic, industry and policy debates concerning the decarbonization of contemporary energy systems (IEA, 2008; Goutte and Vassilopoulos, 2019; Ofgem, 2017; Martinot, 2016; Powells et al. 2014). These conversations have primarily developed around the challenge of maintaining the synchrony between energy supply and demand whilst also reducing the carbon intensity of energy networks. Widespread decarbonization is seen to require substantial investment in renewable resources such as wind, solar and tidal power, yet these resources are each characterised by distinct rhythms of generation (day and night cycles, tide timetables) that do not necessarily align with the times when energy is needed.

Researchers are consequently investigating ways in which the flexibility of energy systems can be increased, with flexibility typically being seen as a system’s ability to “respond rapidly to large fluctuations in demand and supply, both scheduled and unforeseen variations and events, ramping down production when demand decreases, and upwards when it increases” (IEA, 2008: 14). It is in this context that there is growing interest in the flex-abilities of different aspects of energy systems, including the potential for generators to quickly deliver energy when needed; for businesses and organisations to shed or reduce their consumption at specific moments; or for residential consumers to reduce peak load by changing the timing of energy-demanding practices.

However, across the energy sector, issues of flexibility are routinely presented as contemporary challenges linked to novel imperatives of decarbonisation and renewable supply. Practically no attention has been paid to the ways in which past energy systems have been variously (in)flexible, to earlier efforts to manage the relation between supply and demand, or to how such strategies reproduce specific assumptions about ‘normality’ and normal service in different societies and historical periods. As such, there is little sense of how understandings of flexibility have developed and of how they have been built into the design and operation of energy systems over time.

We are consequently inviting contributions for a special issue of the Journal of Energy History on the ‘Histories of Flexibility’. We believe that contemporary debates about flexibility could and should be informed by understandings of how temporal and spatial relations between supply and demand have been configured in the past, and of the processes and politics involved. We therefore invite articles that contribute to an understanding of how supply-demand relations have been managed historically and that, in one way or another, inspire and inform contemporary debates. Whilst most attention to date has focused on flexibility in the context of the electricity sector (partly because electricity is difficult to store), we invite contributions that go beyond this context, suggesting that there is potentially much to learn about how supply-demand relations have been organised and managed in relation to other fuels (coal, gas, oil). We are also interested in accounts that detail the different forms of social and institutional flexibility associated with different ‘end uses’ (for instance, heating, automobility), across different sectors. There are no specific limits with regards to time period.

Specific topics that might be explored in more depth include:

  • Issues of aggregation and scale and how these relate to the challenges of managing supply-demand relations – including the move from smaller scale to networked grids.
  • Responses to instances of ‘shortage’ or crises in supply – what do these reveal about diverse forms of flexibility, about notions of normality and about the periods in which they occur?  As well as moments of breakdown, such as power cuts there are other revealing forms of restriction, for instance in war times or times of economic crisis.
  • Methods of handing variations over different time scales: for instance, seasonal fluctuations as well as daily peak loads.
  • How changes in societal and institutional rhythms, e.g. working hours, holiday periods, etc. have a bearing on both the ‘need’ for energy and when it is required.
  • Methods and techniques for recording and representing the relation between supply and demand in real time, and for forecasting future needs.
  • The political and institutional organisation of energy systems, and how these constitute pressures for and interests in different forms of flexibility.

Details:

To have your paper considered for this special issue, please send an abstract of no more than 300 words to Peter Forman at p.forman@lancaster.ac.uk, by June 7th 2019. Abstracts will be reviewed by the co-editors and authors will be notified of the success or rejection of their applications by June 20th 2019. Unfortunately, we cannot accept publications in French.

We have funding from CREDS (Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions) to host and organise a two-day workshop for contributors (scheduled for December 2019).  This event will provide an opportunity to revise, comment on and improve the coherence of the draft articles and ensure that the special issue adds up to more than the sum of its parts.

Timeline:

   
7th June 2019 Deadline for abstract submission
20th June 2019 Selection of authors
10th November  2019 Deadline for first paper drafts
18th December 2019 Workshop to review and discuss papers (funded by CREDS)
January – May 2020 Editing submissions
28th August 2020 Final deadline for submission to ‘The Journal of Energy  History’
   

The Journal:

The Journal of Energy History / Revue d’histoire de l’énergie is the first journal in French- or English-speaking academia dedicated to the study of the history of energy. At the heart of human history, concerns about energy have increasingly become global, complex, and pressing. They merit rigorous investigation and study, including historical inquiry. Furthermore, the history of energy helps us understand the history of human society and sheds light on contemporary challenges.

The Journal of Energy History / Revue d’histoire de l’énergie seeks to go beyond studies that treat different sources and forms of energy in isolation. The journal hopes to create new opportunities for scholarship and publication in which the full potential of historical research can be realized by comparing and contrasting different forms of energy produced and consumed in their social, political, economic, technological, and cultural contexts.

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Event: CfP ‘Thermal Geographies’ RGS-IBG 2019 Annual Conference

Events, Uncategorized, Upcoming Events, Update

There is still time to submit an abstract to our RGS-IBG session on Thermal Geographies! Full details below.
rgs-ibg-logo SMALL

 

Thermal Geographies: empirical, conceptual and methodological encounters and consolidations.

 

RGS-IBG 2019 Annual International Conference: London (Wednesday 28th to Friday 30th August 2019).

Convenors: Elspeth Oppermann (Technical University Munich), Gordon Walker (Lancaster University) and Peter Forman (Lancaster University).

This session seeks to draw together the multiple ways in which the ‘thermal’ plays a role in shaping geographical materialities and knowledges, and their co-production. It is propelled by two shifts. First, the emergence of new modes of engaging with the thermal such as: embodied, affective, experiential and non-representational engagements with heat and warmth (Ingold, 2011; Vannini et al. 2012); new materialist accounts of energy (Bennet, 2009; Kirby 2011); and analyses in the fields of architecture (Ong, 2012) and human evolution (Jablonski, 2013), which identify heat or thermal energy as agential in the co-production of socio-material, cultural and political worlds.

Second, profound shifts in the materiality of our encounters with thermal energy; on the one hand human life has a remarkable ability to shield itself from and control thermal environments, and on the other, we are increasingly exposed to the vagaries of thermal shifts beyond our control, in part as a result of our (inadvertent) climate engineering. As such, the thermal appears as newly powerful: experientially productive, and potentially existentially destructive. Too much or too little heat, at the wrong or right times, in the wrong or right places – is playing an ever more visible role in the production of thermally differentiated physical and social geographies.

Geographers have engaged with the thermal in various ways. Examples include: the thermally shifting geopolitics of the Arctic, (Shake et al. 2017; Steinberg & Kristofferson, 2017); uneven thermal infrastructural, economic and social geographies (e.g. Buzar, 2007; Silver, 2016);  elemental and pyrotechnical geographies of ice and fire (e.g. Adey, 2015; Clark & Yusoff, 2014); and the entangled geographies of thermal flow for, through and from social practice, including in relation to corporeal vulnerabilities of various forms (e.g. Oppermann and Walker, 2018; Hitchings, 2011).

Cognisant of our temporal and spatial situatedness in a rapidly warming world, we invite empirical, methodological and theoretical papers that critically engage with the thermal as a productive geographical register for understanding, intervening in, or engaging ethically with the dynamics of political, cultural, economic, material and ecological formations.

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words with your name and affiliation to Elspeth Oppermann (elspeth.oppermann@tum.de) and Gordon Walker (g.p.walker@lancaster.ac.uk) by the 8th of February, 5 PM UK time.

New Paper: Inorganic Becomings: Situating the Anthropocene in Puchuncavi – Environmental Humanities

Circulation, Longform, Measurement, Methods, Original Writing, PDFs, Securing, Transformation, Update, Writings

Our paper on experiencing the Anthropocene in Puchuncavi Bay (Chile) is now out. It is a collaboration between fellow materialist scholars, Manual Tironi, Myra Hird, Christian Simonetti, and Nate Freiburger. You can access the full article by following the link below.

https://read.dukeupress.edu/environmental-humanities/article/10/1/187/134706/Inorganic-BecomingsSituating-the-Anthropocene-in

Abstract

In this choral essay we, an assorted group of academics interested in inorganic life and matter, explore a mode of thinking and feeling withour objects of inquiry—chemicals, waste, cement, gas, and the “project” as a particular form of circulation and enactment of materials and things. To experiment with alternative modes of knowing, we went to Puchuncaví, the largest, oldest, and most polluting industrial compound in Chile, to encounter the inorganic through and with its inorganicness and to attend to the situated, historicized, and political composition of both our materials and our experiences. Thinking of this as a collective provocation, we do not rehearse a conventional argument. Its parts are connected but only partially. There is no dramatic arc but rather an attempt at composing an atmosphere through which our thought and feelings are invoked. We have made visible the authorship behind each of the stories recounted here to celebrate the multivocality of our collaboration and to rehearse a nonabstracted mode of attention to Puchuncaví and the inorganic forces and entities we encountered there. We connect our irritations and speculations with the Anthropocene precisely as a way of summoning the multiple violences, many of them of planetary reach, that have to be denounced when situating our knowledge practices in Puchuncaví. Thinking about the ethico-political challenges of research in territories that have been, and are being, transformed under the weighty history of contamination and that are lived in and lived with by generations of beings (human and otherwise), we call in our concluding remarks for an enhanced pedagogy of care born of our inherited pasts and of engagement, interest, and becoming as response-ability.

Teaching: Energy (In)Securities – Winter Semester @Tübingen

Shoutout, Update

Same as last term, students signed up to my course ‘Energy (In)Securities’ will be producing a series of blog posts exploring topics covered in class. These posts will again be hosted on www.exploringsecurity.wordpress.com, and will be uploaded across the semester, so stay tuned!

The handbook for the course, including seminar outlines and reading lists is attached below.

Energy Insecurities – Seminar Handbook (Download link)

New Paper: Circulations beyond Nodes: (in)securities along the pipeline – Mobilities

Circulation, Longform, Methods, Original Writing, Securing, Shoutout, Update, Writings

I’m pleased to announce that my first single-authored paper has been published. It forms part of a special issue edited by Matthias Leese and Stef Wittendorp, entitled ‘Old Securities, New Mobilities’. In it, I draw attention to the opportunities that mobilities approaches can offer for studying security beyond the circulatory ‘nodes’ in which its’ analysis has been recently confined. The paper and its’ abstract can be accessed here, but if you do not have access through your institution, please get in touch via email – I have a limited number of free copies that I am very happy to share.

If you are interested, make sure that you also check out the other articles that are part of this special issue – two of these are currently in early access and have been linked below. More are to come.

Old Securities, New Mobilities – eta. February, 2018

Glouftsios, G. (2017) Governing circulation through technology within EU border security practice-networks http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17450101.2017.1403774

Leese, M. (2017) Standardizing security: the business case politics of borders http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17450101.2017.1403777 

 

Teaching: Student Debate

Events, Past Events, Securing, Update

IS SECURITY MORE IMPORTANT THAN PRIVACY?

This post previously appeared on the student-run blog for my course ‘Critical Security Studies’. The course ran over the summer semester of 2017 at the Institute for Political Science at the University of Tübingen. To access this site, please click here.

This week marked the final seminar of our summer semester course on ‘Critical Security Studies’. To round things off, students took part in a class debate that looked at the tensions between the imperative for security in a period of increased instability and the need for personal privacy. Students were tasked with representing a number of societal interests, including those of government, commerce, and members of the public. Representatives from each group began by first preparing a 5 minute outline of their position, after which the floor was opened for discussion. Challenges were then made across the represented organisations regarding the political implications of different stances.

Topic highlights included: challenges over who/what the referent objects of security were (national security, personal security, economic security, environmental security, etc.), as well as what the threats perceived to necessitate particular security measures entailed; questions over the capacity of governments and regulating bodies to keep up with technological change and adequately legislate/regulate the behaviour of corporations and intelligence agencies; the capacity of these organisations to protect personal data from hackers and state-supported cyber-attacks; fears over the marginalisation and vilification of certain social groups through these methods; the lack of transparency and accountability within the processes of sovereign decision making (including in the formation of security algorithms, the collection of data, and the enforcement of these decisions); the implications of the position ‘you have nothing to worry if you are not doing anything wrong’; and the distinction between ‘feeling secure’ and ‘being secure’, which entailed a fascinating and detailed student critique of what it actually means to ‘be secure’. Discussion was brisk and light-hearted (albeit with a meaningful punch), and the debate topped off what has been a thoroughly stimulating and enjoyable set of conversations that have taken place over the previous thirteen weeks of this seminar series.