Paradigm shift in Danish wind power: the (un)sustainable transformation of a sector

Julia Kirch Kirkegaard*, Tom Cronin, Sophie Nyborg, Peter Karnøe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The Danish wind power sector grew out of a combination of small and medium-sized entrepreneurial firms and local pioneers forming small-scale wind farm cooperatives. This paper studies the initial organisation and subsequent transformation of the socio-technical assemblage or ‘agencement’ around wind power in Denmark, focusing on the changing roles and agency of electricity producers. We propose a conceptual model for mapping the transformation over time, following five entangled dimensions: capitalisation instruments, turbine technology, capital investment, regulation of finance and ownership modes. We show how changes in all five socio-material dimensions have produced a ‘paradigm shift’, reconfiguring wind power from a distributed power source to critical infrastructure. This shift has marginalised local players and mobilised new types of producers and ownership forms. Using the conceptual model, we map the controversy resulting from the paradigm shift. Our relational lens of market studies within Science & Technology Studies captures how wind power’s ‘sustainability’ has become contested, and how this cannot be understood as a matter of ‘community acceptance’ dissociated from material factors. Proposing our conceptual model for future studies, we contribute not only to the extant social acceptance literature, but also to critical energy debates on the governance of climate change and sustainability.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Environmental Policy and Planning
Volume23
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)97-113
Number of pages17
ISSN1523-908X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Danish Wind Power
  • Socio-technical agencement
  • Paradigm shift
  • Social acceptence
  • Conceptual model

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