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Understanding the material dimensions of the uneven deployment of renewable energy in two Italian regions

De Laurentis, Carla ORCID: and Pearson, Peter J. G. ORCID: 2018. Understanding the material dimensions of the uneven deployment of renewable energy in two Italian regions. Energy Research and Social Science 36 , pp. 106-119. 10.1016/j.erss.2017.11.009

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Drawing on empirical material from two Italian regions, we show how various material dimensions have affected the spatial distribution and deployment of renewable energy (RE), in particular solar and wind energy. The paper draws on an approach to the analysis of materiality originally developed in the extractive industries literature, including fossil fuels. The paper acknowledges that RE forms have significantly fewer material components compared with coal, oil and gas and the other extractive industries. Nevertheless, the deployment of RE, the process of turning renewable ‘natural resources’ into productive use as viable forms of energy through stages of energy conversion, storage, transmission and distribution has material aspects like those involved in the deployment of fossil fuels. This paper aims to show how understanding these aspects of renewable energy offers an opportunity to unpack and explain how particular RE paths come to be favoured or hampered, and yields useful insights into the spatial unevenness and variation of RE deployment at the regional level. Italy has introduced a system of renewable energy incentives and between 2010 and 2012 experienced impressive growth in the renewable energy sector. The paper shows how the significant spatial variation in renewable energy deployment in the regions of Apulia and Tuscany can be explained in terms of the influence that the material dimensions exercised in relation to renewable energy deployment processes. The paper suggests that understanding the material dimensions of renewable energy offers useful insights into how and why RE realises – and quite often fails to realise – its potential in specific forms, spaces and places.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Additional Information: Released with a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives License (CC BY-NC-ND)
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 2214-6296
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 8 January 2018
Date of Acceptance: 7 November 2017
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 04:18

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