Accepted Paper:

Turning sunlit rooftops and windy sites into energy assets  


Alain Nadai (Centre national de la recherche scientifique)
Béatrice Cointe (CNRS - CSI)

Paper short abstract:

Our contribution analyses the work of turning things (sunlit rooftops, windy sites) into productive assets (solar roof, wind power site) which is at the core of renewable energy development. It discusses on this basis notions used in the critics of capitalism (asset, rentierhsip).

Paper long abstract:

At the core of renewable energy project development is the work of turning things (roof, site) into productive assets (solar roof, wind power site) through the siting of material devices (turbines, PV panels). The resulting assets convert an untamed flow (sun, wind) into electricity dubbed 'renewable' and eligible to stable remuneration ('feed-in' tariff). They are valued (tradable projects/portfolios) and they produce value (marketable electricity). Assembling productive-enough assets implies engaging things in hybrid agencements by requalifying their pre-existing usages and/or users.

Our contribution starts from two case studies of politically engaged project developments: a mutualised PV project carried out by farmers (Fermes de Figeac, Lot, France), and a wind farm repowering in a European migratory corridor involving bird watchers and a wind power developers (Narbonnaise, Languedoc-Roussillon, France). These cases allow us to describe the socio-technical and economic reconfigurations through which sunlit rooftops and a windy site are turned into assets, and made to generate revenue streams. We further look at what these reconfigurations produce, which allows us to discuss the forms of rentierships entailed and the way in which we define assets.

As these processes take place at the junction with financial valuation, conveyed by developers business models (project/portfolio TRIs, relation with banks), they additionally make the case for discussing the relation between capitalisation (TRI requirements) and asset making.

Panel T005
Turning Things into Assets