Alternative Futures with Dr James Angel
Reimagining: Energy Systems
Friday 25 June 3.30pm-5.00pm
As part of our Alternative Futures seminar series, we are delighted to host this online seminar with speaker Dr James Angel. James is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Department of Geography at King’s College London. His research explores the contested politics of urban energy transitions. He has a background in environmental and social justice activist initiatives, which he continues to participate in.
The transition from fossil to renewable energy is said by many within the energy industry to require a more "flexible" electricity system. The suggestion is that the "variability" of renewable energy resources - alongside the increasing load placed on the electricity grid by decentralised renewable generation and the electrification of heat and transport - requires an enhanced capacity to change the spatial and temporal profiles of electricity supply and demand. Drawing on research within the UK electricity sector, this paper contends that UK electricity flexibility schemes constitute a socio-ecological fix for capitalism. He argues that the spatiotemporality of renewable energy presents a limit to capital accumulation - a limit that UK flexibility initiatives seek to overcome. The paper concludes by contending that electricity system flexibility should not be written off as an inherently reactionary socio-technical project by virtue of its enrolment within the reproduction of exploitative capitalist relations. James calls attention to the political flexibility of energy system flexibility and, in doing so, further develop ongoing attempts to theorise the socio-ecological fix in a more politicised manner.
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First published: 25 June 2021