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Reconfiguring energy flows: energy grid-lock and the role of regions in shaping electricity infrastructure networks

De Laurentis, Carla ORCID: and Cowell, Richard ORCID: 2022. Reconfiguring energy flows: energy grid-lock and the role of regions in shaping electricity infrastructure networks. Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning 24 (4) , pp. 433-448. 10.1080/1523908X.2021.2008235

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This paper investigates how a regional perspective can offer an insightful frame to examine the distribution of agency in energy transitions, with particular reference to the widespread problem of restructuring electricity grid networks to accommodate the expansion of renewable energy. Understanding governance and agency in this sphere requires a conceptual framework that can capture the layered nature of infrastructure and the functional and territorial mismatches between network governance and other governmental arenas. Thus, this paper adopts Barry’s concept of ‘technological zones’ and uses it to examine grid capacity challenges and prospective solutions in two Italian regions. The paper investigates how regional governments can exploit the techno-economic opportunities and fixities to develop energy network solutions in their administrative territories and shows the nature (albeit partial) and reach of regional-level agency. The findings highlight that regions should not only be seen as a layer of governance but as sites of problems – and action – which spark innovations. We argue that while the regional-level has had a modest influence in the regulation of network infrastructure in the chosen cases, regions have had a role in rendering their territory, directly or indirectly, available for infrastructural investment and in mediating potential constraints.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Additional Information: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 0964-0568
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 15 November 2021
Date of Acceptance: 1 November 2021
Last Modified: 10 May 2023 06:45

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