Scales of Disconnection: Mismatches Shaping the Geographies of Emerging Energy Landscapes

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Abstract

The networked nature of energy systems produces geographies of connection, but the focus of this paper is on geographies of disconnection, exploring the multi-scalar processes which shape the context in which energy landscapes emerge. It does so, first, by presenting a case study of farmers' attitudes to perennial energy crops in south-west Scotland. Their strong antipathy to converting farmland to short-rotation coppice, and the reasons for their negative attitudes, exemplify some of the wider mismatches and disconnects which the paper goes on to discuss. These include socio-political and socio-cultural mismatches, and a range of essentially geographical disconnects which are scalar in nature, such as the familiar local-global tension and the mismatch between the scales (both temporal and spatial) at which environmental and human systems organise and function. The discussion shows how these disjunctions not only affect energy geographies but also raise far-reaching questions about the ability of current governance structures and liberal democratic systems to respond swiftly and effectively to global challenges. The way that these mismatches are negotiated will mould both the character of future energy landscapes and the speed at which they take shape.

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