Matching Items (3)
- All Subjects: Energy Justice
- All Subjects: Energy transition
- Genre: Doctoral Dissertation
- Creators: Graffy, Elisabeth
- Creators: Singh, Kartikeya
- Member of: ASU Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Societies seeking sustainability are transitioning from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy sources to mitigate dangerous climate change. Energy transitions involve ethically controversial decisions that affect current and future generations’ well-being. As energy systems in the United States transition towards renewable energy, American Indian reservations with abundant energy sources are some of the most significantly impacted communities. Strikingly, energy ethicists have not yet developed a systematic approach for prescribing ethical action within the context of energy decisions. This dissertation reinvents energy ethics as a distinct sub-discipline of applied ethics, integrating virtue ethics, deontology, and consequentialism with Sioux, Navajo, and Hopi ethical perspectives. On this new account, applied energy ethics is the analysis of questions of right and wrong using a framework for prescribing action and proper policies within private and public energy decisions. To demonstrate the usefulness of applied energy ethics, this dissertation analyzes two case studies situated on American Indian reservations: the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Navajo Generating Station.
As India expanded its grid infrastructure, decentralized renewable energy technologies, such as off-grid solar, also emerged in parallel as an electrification solution. This dissertation critically examines the role of off-grid solar in facilitating rural electrification efforts in India. Specifically, it applies the frameworks of the multi-level perspective, capabilities approach, and energy justice to achieve three objectives: (1) trace the evolution of off-grid solar in India; (2) understand the role of solar micro-grids in improving household capabilities and well-being; (1) examine whether and how community-scale solar micro-grids can operate as just means of electrification. This research relies on qualitative case-study methods. The historical research in Paper 1 is based on published policy documents and interviews with energy experts in India. It finds that landscape-regime-niche actor relations and politics were crucial in shaping off-grid solar transition outcomes. There is also a narrative component, as the key narratives of energy security, environmental degradation, climate change and energy for development converged to create spaces for state and non-state interactions that could nurture the development of off-grid solar. The community-level research in Papers 2 and 3 analyze a local energy initiative of community operated solar micro-grid using semi-structured interviews and participant observations from three villages in Maharashtra. Solar micro-grids play an important part in expanding people’s choices and opportunities. The benefits are not uniform across all people, however. Increases in energy-related capabilities vary by economic class and gender, and to some extent this means certain biases can get reinforced. In addition, the inability of solar micro-grids to keep up with the changing electrification landscape and daily practices means that the challenges of affordability, reliability and community engagement emerged as important concerns over-time. Empirically, this dissertation finds that off-grid energy initiatives must be carefully designed to be in alignment with local values and realities. Theoretically, it adds to debates on justice in energy transitions by showcasing the regime-led innovations, and temporality elements of energy justice local energy initiatives.
Concerns about the environmental and social impacts of anthropogenic climate change have called into question the efficacy, efficiency, and equity of energy systems. People committed to renewable energy transitions, and those who defend fossil-based systems, are simultaneously envisioning energy futures and seeking to build them. In the process, they are changing both energy technologies and how social life is organized around them. In this dissertation, I examine how ideas and materialities around distributed solar power become inscribed into energy policies, etched into urban landscapes, and embedded into city life. These processes engender particular kinds of embodied communities, which I define as solar communities. I study the visual and affective dimensions of emerging solar communities in Arizona and Italy using the qualitative methods of semi-structured interviews, photo-documentation, and observation. The dissertation consists of three papers. In Chapter 2, I explore how rooftops are constructed as newly productive sites for electricity generation through economic, legal, cartographic, and political negotiations, and how they become sites of struggle over who has access to them. I describe a case study in Phoenix about a proposed change in compensation for residential rooftop solar customers and the affective dynamics of a protest around it. In Chapter 3, I examine how a variety of photovoltaic applications are appearing in urban landscapes in Treviso, Italy and Flagstaff, Arizona. I investigate how aesthetic and environmental values are imbued in the physical forms those installations ultimately take, and the role that in/visibility plays in shaping these decisions. I use photography to document these emergent solar communities and argue that there is value to seeing photovoltaics in your city. In Chapter 4, I describe a workshop I led on the human dimensions and ethical trade-offs of renewable energy transitions using interactive activities and case studies from Ethiopia and Appalachia. I show how decisions about energy transitions have far-reaching impacts on people’s lives, health, the way they work, and geopolitical relationships. Together, these chapters begin to form a picture of the governance around, and visuality of, photovoltaic designs that emerge as fixtures of both landscape and society, which in turn inform solar communities.