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Where is ‘the local’ in localization? Exploring socio-technical and spatial visions of energy system decarbonization in South Wales

Groves, Christopher ORCID:, Henwood, Karen ORCID:, Thomas, Gareth ORCID:, Roberts, Erin ORCID:, Shirani, Fiona and Pidgeon, Nick ORCID: 2024. Where is ‘the local’ in localization? Exploring socio-technical and spatial visions of energy system decarbonization in South Wales. Energy Research and Social Science 107 , 103330. 10.1016/j.erss.2023.103330
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Energy system transition is essential to support global decarbonization, and will involve the increasing use of renewable energy and the socio-technical transformation of centralized, fossil fuel systems alongside changes to how supply and demand is met. Localization represents an emerging vision of how this transformation might occur, but any system transformation will be complex, thanks to the multi-level, polycentric modes of governance that are part of most dominant energy regimes globally and which may create collective action problems. Drawing on narrative policy analysis and using a novel anticipatory mapping method, we analyze date from expert interviews conducted in Wales, UK, to explore how emerging visions of localization are being used to make sense of these complexities and to help shape strategy in the present. We show how imagery of ‘clusters’ plays a key role in these visions as ways of constructing ‘the local’ to help coordinate action among key actors. At the same time, such ways of understanding locality raise additional challenges in the shape of collective action problems that require regionalization strategies to solve, alongside concrete national visions to coordinate priories at local and regional level. This overflowing between spatial scales poses challenges of legitimacy for energy transition governance, not only in Wales and the UK but across national jurisdictions that have undertaken energy system privatization and liberalization.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 2214-6296
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 January 2024
Date of Acceptance: 25 October 2023
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2024 06:50

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