Accepted Paper:

Community-based intermediaries and the local embedding of energy technologies  


Jake Barnes (University of Sussex)

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines the agency of community ‘intermediaries’ to locally embed market-ready energy technologies. Using three literatures – sustainability transitions, domestication studies and research on innovation intermediaries – a model is constructed and then refined through four case studies.

Paper long abstract:

'Grassroots' and community-based activists are increasingly identified as potentially important actors in contemporary urban energy transformations. Their attempts to deploy market-ready technologies within their local context, involves innovation in technologies, institutions and social practices. Such innovation can be viewed as connected to but sitting above daily practices and household routines and incorporates but sits below the embedding of technology by wider society. As such community-led experimentation for local embedding suggests a gap in current knowledge between different conceptual approaches in STS and innovation studies, about local embedding via community intermediaries.

From this empirical entry point and the broad research question - how are community initiatives seeking to integrate energy technologies into local contexts of use? - the paper explores three related literatures on sustainability transitions, domestication studies and research on innovation intermediaries to understand the agency of community-based intermediaries to locally embed technologies. In doing so it builds a novel process model of community-based intermediation for local embedding, including an ideal-typical sequence to community intermediary processes. The model is then tested against four case studies on solar PV and solid wall insulation using a process theory methodology: event listings, analytic chronologies and visual maps aid pattern recognition and refinement of the model.

Panel T050
Conceptualizing transformational change in energy systems and the built environment