Posts Tagged ‘Copenhagen’



April 9-10 STS Energy Workshop

IT U Copenhagen…Technologies of Practice

from the back

Wow. That was a whole heck of a lot of fun.

It was as if we were two energy teams meeting together in Copenhagen. On our end, there was Moi, Stefan Aykut, and Katherine Tveiterås, and on the IT U Copenhagen, Technologies in Practice, we had Brit Ross Winthereik and Laura Watts as speakers, alongside a gaggle of faculty, postdocs, and fellows, including Christopher Gad, Steffen Dalsgaard, Lea Schick, with James Maguire having helped in the set up.

Sofie Stenbøg was with us as well.

We did all kinds of stuff. Talked. Asked questions. Went for lunch. Talked more. Had coffee and cake. Went for a long walk (which ended up at the bar). Then we went for dinner somewhere (then to another bar).

It was true fun.

announcementMy talk was, what it was. But let us hear from the other folks.

First up, we had Stefan, talking about climate policy, energy experts, scenario making, how climate policy gets embedded into existing practices of energy scenarios – scenarios as one specific tool of government, that provides one aspect of policy – all kinds of stakeholders that will be important, power structures and how energy policy is organized.

All said, Stefan out did himself on this go. Great talk. Listen below:

foodFirst line of thought: path dependency and institutional change in the policy field. It is a political science question, which is especially strong in the energy field.

True for material reasons, large infrastructure that requires to be built, return on investment and lifespan is 10-15 years for wind, 100 years for dams. The material path dependency is only one side of the story.

A second side is the actor coalitions, very strong actor coalitions.

“Iron Pentagram” in German. In France it is so obvious that energy policy is centralized that there is no term for collusion between government and industry.
“Trained to be pro-nuclear”. Traditional alliances between coal trade unions and political left gave coal a much longer and stronger place in Germany than when you look at it from an economic or material perspective.

Third dimension – cognitive dimension, or cultural commitment to certain organizations of development.

“American way of life is not negotiable” – American way of life linked to hydrocarbons and a special way of developing energy. Shale gas is a reaffirmation of thinking through the relationship of society and the US.
the locals

In France, reconstruction of the French state, modernity, identity, and commitment to nuclear power and the nuclear bomb. Tied to a certain kind of identity politics. Different for Germany who never had the bomb, so this could not emerge. German coal is the reconstruction of Germany after the war, it is what gave Germany its fueling economic boost that came out of the war and identity.

danishPath dependencies are many-fold or is it manifold. Global terrain in which identity politics that does not get weaker.

Second line of thought – social movements and social futures. How futures are embedded in our way of the present. Ulrich Beck: distinction between present futures and future futures.

Future futures are what happens tomorrow, and present futures that are those tomorrows that are embedded in today, how those tomorrows are becoming more and more important today. Unintended consequences of our risk society decision making today – Anthony Giddens, colonization about the future by the present.

How futures play out in social movements – futures are perhaps not that new, but more and more involved in the battlefields of what is at stake these days.

side viewFutures visions embedded in the way people talk, about controversies, what risks are, what certain visions are. Some controversies are defining the future and thereby controlling the present.

The present is very different if you have futures of peak oil or not. The present is very different if you have futures of climate catastrophe or not. The role of children – in environmental discourse. “Grips and the Future”

What are energy scenarios? As an instrument of government – they emerged in two different arenas, the circles around the RAND corporation in the US and the French planning both during the 1950s. French planning not about energy, but agriculture, business (like today’s China, 5-year plans) – giving some strategy to national priorities.

walkingScenario making – cognitive making, science of forecasts, what it means to have sciences of the future, because it emerged in the planning circles it has a strategic dimension, bringing together networks. First energy scenarios made in Germany and France are about (the) oil crisis, and the development of nuclear programs.

Nuclear requires huge investments, requiring large start up costs, and the rest is not that expensive. Very different from an investment point of view. Rate of Return over certain periods of time creates different kinds of strategies.

Nuclear program requires 50 years and thus means that the state has to bring together different team members.

the locationScenario is a tool of government, a centralized tool, technical discussions, certain actors only can be involved. Post 1970s – you see re-appropriation of scenarios by non-state actors. Amory Lovins, CERA, and in Germany and France. In Europe, reaction to development of Nuclear, emergence of a whole range of alternative scenarios, that contradict government, challenging government on a whole host of issues.

Taking the battle to the future in order to create alternatives in the present. This process leads to a high visibility of in parliamentary issues and in the 1990s, green discourses, notions and concepts of transitions.

descriptionIn France, there are transition scenarios, but that do not get the same attention in public discourse. How actors get legitimacy and bring attention to themselves. “The ambiguity of scenarios as a policy tool” – high entry barriers to discourse (technical knowledge) – but they can get re-appropriated by different groups.

sofieModeling Front: Scenarios are specific technologies in two ways. It is an economic modeling exercise – technical specificity, secondly, it is a governing technique.

On the modeling side, you have different groups, “different kinds of tribes”, economists, thinking mostly about stability, macro level, an economic system, energy is just one part of the system – a specific energy mix on the other end as a result.

Engineers, who are thinking mostly about technologies, about energy services, and make more bottom-up models.

These are more sensitive to technological change.

Government Front: How the organization of the state – the tradition of bringing together different actors guided by state engineers. Participatory techniques that grew up out of the 1990s and even from the 1970s. No longer about planning and bringing the most important stakeholders.

BritWrap up – scenarios as participatory expertise and participatory exercise (exclusion of actors, highering the entry barrios, or permeating by lower level folks).

How are power relations inscribed into scenarios – a future in which power relations are inscribed into the present? Circulation – how do alternative future visions circulate? How do they influence and irrigate and get built into official scenario building?

[they ] felt obliged to take into account simulations by energy consultants in order to counter energy firms. How do they look differently and what are their conditions of success? Consultancies in Germany and France are not as instrumental or have the same centrality as in the United States.


foodKatherine just finished. She presented on our Intermediaries proposal and we were peppered with questions. It was remarkable to see her present the project, as if her talk should have been titled levitated mass.

Ok. Brit is now up and begins with –
A video. A short movie.

Alien energy project 2013-2015.

How do these renewable technologies on the edge impact on and are impacted by local communities? Community is not self evident (scientific community?), but in this proposal it has come to mean local peoples living in the area. Interested in how community emerges along side places where renewables is emerging. We are talking about wave energy here.

housingToolbox – Bringing new kinds of actors and problems into view.

Alienness means that they are not part of the energy infrastructure (like immigrants). Creating an exhibition. Mix characteristics from the classic ethnographic collection with new forms to create a mobile exhibition while doing fieldwork. Mobile because they need to be present in each of their field sites.

The ultimate stranger – Alien.

on siteConstituting difference which is not pure otherness. Aleins are life forms whose place in our forms of life is yet to be determined. Ownerships, managing the sea. Edge and World’s End – Location of test devices: “World’s end”. When we go to Hednstown. There are many physical qualities that represent edge. Which is an asset – taking fish out of the sea, but also somehow invisible, out of the way.

Indigenous cosmopolitics – How to take seriously the edge as a participant, and in what communities is the edge a political device? Frontier, an environment to conquer, tame and manage. Udkant – an environment to escape from. “Hinge or zone of transduction”. Wave developers to mobilize with local politicians – Innovation model.

The Innovation Model. What are the boundaries based on? What kinds of timelines are created? What are the timelines of the scenario?

Demonstration – from Andrew Barry. The ability of test devices to attract visitors, royal family, politicians. What is the ability of test devices to produce stories?

mainStories that do not circulate very easily.

Hockey stick is an image of enactment for investors. This industry does not exist as an industry. Technologies are pre BC in lots of cases.

Getting stories to physically move.
Innovation model image that helps promote the project – to be taken as a fact.

Two configurations as inventors: 1) one man + wife and garage. Spent all their money on it; (2) another version managed to mobilize a bit more, has a finance guy as a director, so that the inventor is not too visible. What is the legacy and what is the future that they can connect up to? Data is important, and what is created at the test site?

A feed in tariff supportive of the energy that is produced. They produce energy from waves and cannot transport it to the grid because it is too expensive. But they could present it, if they had government backing they could develop the industry. Recognition, but just a little bit.


floorLaura Watts is up now.

The Fanzine
Fan Magazine –

Objects we can produce that can travel.

Orkney – The sea as an object is not a singular thing but a multiple thing. Scotland is devolving from England. Linked deeply to oil development. Nationalistic project that comes from oil development, if oil was linked to Scotland (rather than London).

Waters around Orkney is the Saudi Arabia of marine power.
International regulations around Sea ownership are totally different than land regulations.

If you think about waves in England, they bump around a bit. Waves in Orkney that are 12 meters high. They stop things from happening – experience of waves may be different. “Unless you’ve been in Orkney, you don’t know”.

If you want people to understand, you have to put them on a plane, you have to bring them Orkney. Situated knowledge, the importance of differences in sea and their materiality.

walkingA Map with Arctic at the center (referring to Katherine’s talk). It makes a difference where the edge is located. The place where you are is central when you are doing fieldwork.

Orkney is very way away. But if you live in Orkney, there are people there from all over the world. Every day people come from all parts of the world to visit Orkney for wave energy. So they have an understanding of themselves through this relationship to Orkney as a wave center, because it has conferences on wave energy.

Locations that are very fragile. Minor changes in fragile environments lead to big changes. Islands are living in the future, because of their fragility will change – edge places, where impacts matter, in a different way than the way Silicon Valley represents the future.

Electricity grid. Centralized. Centralized power stations.

Energy in the wrong place. Major issue, building national infrastructure to connect with energy on the edge.

“Server farm” – data, electricity. Google has a massive server farm near Oregon near large amounts of renewable energy, hydro.

folksyMarine energy devices get washed up on the beach. What do you do with that visible aspect of failure?

Sitting inside a consultancy in Orkney.

Building a wave energy industry will require large amounts of money to connect it to the government grid system. Who gets to move the knowledge, who gets to listen to the knowledge, who wants to listen to knowledge.

Spaces of science, where people should be able to make science, collective ownership.

foodyNorthern Norway. Not as much economic development. “[Katherine] Been used as a rhetoric for years, they would use edge as a word to force government’s hand. After Snøvit, you’re no longer on the edge but in the center of development. The rhetoric used for years is now coming back on them”. Arctic on the edge, coming to be used differently by different actors, environmentalists, etc.

scatter plotEdge as having agency.
Stories that circulate vs. objects that travel

Telling stories. Embed themselves. What stories they tell about the future and how they mobilize the past as well. Windmills very important blah blah blah.. Century of the wind is coming back…

At least as important to tell stories that do not mention certain pasts. To organize forgetting. “[Stefan] One thing that you will never hear, about the electric vehicle, that we know how to construct them for 100 years. We never hear of its past. When you year the electric vehicle, ‘it’s now that the technology is right'” – might be helpful to state that it is an embryonic state.

foodyThey make the comparison to the flight industry. What was it [composed of] that it was so successful. Wright worked a whole lot on his environment. The Patent system, a wealthy friend that bought him an island. All things that have nothing to do with the technical development.

Purified accounts of how things progress (models of progress) versus what is actually happening. As far as the wave, a story about the device itself.

Utopian projects of scaling up. Grid system requires to be complete. Manifest destiny of completing the grid.

The pipeline in Alaska is part of a system to connect Alaska to modernity technologically, to connect its remoteness to the lower forty eight. More modernity. Energy system in the mind. A public service versus a commodity. Nuclear power.

Certain forms of infrastructure around energy where it leads to control.

dinner sign

3/10: 10-11.30 public lecture and discussion (Arthur Mason). Arthur, you might
> include Stefan and Katherine if you feel you would rather do it
> collaboratively. This part of the program will be open and public.
> 11.30-13.30 lunch and walk. Possibly Philippe Bonnet, head of the
> university’s Energy Future strategic initiative will join us.
> 13.30-16 workshop (we will think of a good format)
> Dinner in the evening

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