“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Energic Autarchy: Cultures of Energy

Stefan Beck, Humboldt U Berlin

 “No Brownouts in Germany: Towards an analysis of energopractices after Fukushima,” paper given at the Cultures of Energy 2nd Annual Spring Research Symposium, April 19–21, 2013

political project to move << fossils >> renewables
accidentally sped up after Fukushima
March 14 2011: German government answered to massive concerns with a moratorium on nuclear power
“thorough risk assessment”
>> Parliament decides permanently to take nuclear power plants off the grid >> 2022
Change in energy policy didn’t cause any disruption: no brownouts
sometimes the new fluctuating sources cause temporary overloads
tremendous almost exponential growth of renewables since 2000. 
paradox of rising energy prices
now what emerges is heightened visibility of taken for granted power infrastructure
existential revolution in the ways of live of one of the more advanced industrial societies
but peaceful
Timothy Mitchell, Carbon Democracy; politics << material relations
Marxian undercurrent. Social being determines consciousness. 
“renewable democracies”
different types of energy use shape different types of polity
offshore wind farms (big corporations) vs citizen funded local wind farms--energy autonomous communities
uncompleted and often improvised nature of these practices
biopower concept critique: energopower (Dominic), energopractices
Robineau and Rose: biopower not << single power or set of interests but emanating from a whole set of sub-state institutions
>> 3 dimensions of governmentality: truth discourses about nature-culture; strategies that intervene upon collective systems; modes of subjectivation, individuals rework cosmologies
difference between Foucault on C19 and recent energopower: post hoc explanations are not possible for an anthropology of the contemporary
Kierkegaard: “life must be understood backwards but it must be lived fowards”
incremental concepts that emphasize small conflictual moments vs all encompassing logic...
[ha, no one likes all encompassing logic]
“heterogeneous embeddedness of all energopower practices”
1980 report: study of change from fossil >> renewable
Energiebender << 1968 student movement; opposition to nuclear <> plutonium <> military
fear of radiation did not play an important role at this time
>> intellectuals and experts <> Club of Rome report
Das Schwein bestimmt das BewuRstsein
experiments in modes of conduct
started first big powerplant in his backyard! 
1988: started his own energy production
>> free range pig farm and direct marketing
This was weird for his GDR colleagues
Marxist thinking plus ecological ideas
individual and local autarchy
biogas strategies: farmers tinkering with crude reactors
>> electricity and heat; improved fertilizer
guarantee of fixed price for next 15 to 20 years
game changer for bioenergy production
closed loop production in the agrarian sector
reducing bank dependency
multiscalar spatiotemporal relations; connections as part of a metabolic infrastructure
energo-autarchy; Neue Energien Forum Fledheim
many towns and cities have now reached a state of autarchy with regard to energy in Germany
constructed their own electricity and heating grid in the village; wind generators, biogas, whole infrastructure for sustainable autarchy

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