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Managing (im)permanence: end-of-life challenges for the wind and solar energy sectors

Windemer, Rebecca 2019. Managing (im)permanence: end-of-life challenges for the wind and solar energy sectors. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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In the context of the global energy transition there is a need to consider the future contribution of wind and solar farms. Given tightening restrictions on new infrastructure, the dynamics of future expansion will likely depend on companies’ ability to retain their licence to operate in existing sites, including potentially increasing output through repowering. However, this raises questions regarding perceptions of original siting decisions and how decisions should be made regarding their future. Impacting the urgency of such considerations are the dominance of time-limited planning consents that have often been used to promote sites as ‘reversible’ or ‘temporary’. Through mixed-method research involving cases in England, Wales and Scotland, this thesis aims to understand how end-of-life decisions for wind and solar farms are considered, constructed and revisited. The research firstly reveals the scale of the issue and national government responses. Qualitative interviews reveal how the actors involved approach end-of-life decisions and whose time preferences tend to dominate. With publics’ views of time widely invoked, surveys provide a deeper insight into local perspectives. To better conceptualise the issues at stake, this thesis applies a Deleuzian approach to exploring planning regulation and temporality using Barbara Adam’s idea of time as multiple. The findings reveal how multiple temporalities permeate end-of-life processes, influencing the context of sites and decisions. Notionally time-limited consents are often renegotiated. The complex reality of ‘temporariness’ is evident through discussions of wind farm removal and potential abandonment alongside widespread assumptions that decommissioning will be unproblematic. Although temporal preferences can be seen to vary amongst actors, the priorities of developers often dominate, although their decisions are shaped by wider economic factors. While most end-of-life applications get consented, community acceptance varies. This thesis thus reveals a need for future researchers to consider multiple temporalities when making sense of the interface between planning and energy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Renewable energy Wind energy Solar energy Time Temporality Reversibility Repowering Life-extension Decommissioning Planning
Funders: ESRC, Cardiff University School of Geography and Planning
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 20 May 2020
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2022 10:18

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