New political ecologies and food-energy-water nexus of renewable energy and energy storage 1

Type: Virtual Paper
Sponsor Groups: Water Resources Specialty Group, Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group, Energy and Environment Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM (PST)
Room: Virtual 40
Organizers: Bethani Turley, Alida Cantor
Chairs: Bethani Turley


The US energy sector is in the process of a major transition toward renewable energy technologies in order to decarbonize energy production and address climate change. Alongside a rise in proposals for new renewable energy infrastructure, there is currently a huge push by policymakers and entrepreneurs for energy storage technologies that can ensure renewable energy availability and allow for renewable energy to phase out natural gas and coal. Energy storage technologies range from large land-intensive infrastructure projects to household-scale technologies, including large-scale pumped hydro storage, utility-scale battery energy storage systems, and non-wires alternatives and distributed energy projects.

Geographers have embraced the study of energy and the low carbon energy transition, noting that energy transition is more than a socio-technical, temporal process, but that it is rather political, cultural, and deeply geographic (Bridge et al. 2013; Hansen and Coenen 2015). One aspect of the energy transition is that large-scale renewable energy and energy storage infrastructures require extensive surficial land use (Huber and McCarthy 2017), and involve complex issues around water and land use, which raises questions around the use of water resources and land development politics.

An emerging approach in policy and management disciplines to these resource issues is the ‘food-energy-water nexus’, used especially in the context of agricultural and energy development in areas affected by drought and water scarcity, such as Southern California (Fang, Newell, and Cousins 2015). However this nexus literature tends to lack analysis of the political economic and political ecological contexts that produce resources and their use (Williams, Bouzarovski, and Swyngedouw 2019). Following the call for geographers to address issues of the low carbon energy transition and to engage with the food-energy-water nexus (Baka and Vaishnava 2020), this panel invites papers that critically examine land and water implications of the existing and emergent renewable energy and energy storage landscape in (and beyond) the US.
We are interested in papers that utilize critical perspectives including political ecology and political economy, feminist and decolonial perspectives, and critical physical geography; we welcome a range of methodological approaches and want to develop empirically rich accounts of renewable energy and its land-water implications. Completed and ongoing studies are welcome.
We seek papers that engage themes including, but not limited to:
• Regional political ecology and urban metabolism of renewable energy
• Critical perspectives on the food-water-energy nexus approach
• Alternatives to utility scale renewable energy: non-wires alternatives and distributed energy plans
• The emergent landscape of energy storage technologies, including proposed but not yet implemented storage projects, and energy storage projects’ resultant land and water implications, finance and energy storage investment, and local/global examinations of energy storage production (i.e. the supply chain and mining of critical minerals)
• Multispecies perspectives on endangered species and renewable energy infrastructures
• Renewable energy planning processes; analysis of institutional planning, cross-sectoral, integrated, management; scientific knowledge production; and/or political economic factors that influence planning
• Legal geographies of renewable energy, land use and conflicting environmental imaginaries and ontologies
• Renewable energy as socioecological fix
• Conflicting hydro-social territorialization
• Environmental and energy justice issues and movements around renewable energy transition; analysis of just transition and just sustainability including resistance to renewable energy technologies and projects

Baka, Jennifer, and Saumya Vaishnava. 2020. “The Evolving Borderland of Energy Geographies.” Geography Compass, no. February: 1–17.
Bridge, Gavin, Stefan Bouzarovski, Michael Bradshaw, and Nick Eyre. 2013. “Geographies of Energy Transition: Space, Place and the Low-Carbon Economy.” Energy Policy 53: 331–40.
Fang, A. J., Joshua P. Newell, and Joshua J. Cousins. 2015. “The Energy and Emissions Footprint of Water Supply for Southern California.” Environmental Research Letters 10 (11).
Hansen, Teis, and Lars Coenen. 2015. “The Geography of Sustainability Transitions: Review, Synthesis and Reflections on an Emergent Research Field.” Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions 17: 92–109.
Huber, Matthew T., and James McCarthy. 2017. “Beyond the Subterranean Energy Regime? Fuel, Land Use and the Production of Space.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 42 (4): 655–68.
Williams, Joe, Stefan Bouzarovski, and Erik Swyngedouw. 2019. “The Urban Resource Nexus: On the Politics of Relationality, Water–Energy Infrastructure and the Fallacy of Integration.” Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space 37 (4): 652–69.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Jean-Baptiste Bahers*, CNRS, UMR ESO, Université De Nantes, Political-industrial Ecology of urban energy metabolism: metabolic relationships between cities and hinterlands and waste-biomass-energy nexus in Nantes St Nazaire (France) and Gothenburg (Sweden) 15 3:05 PM
Presenter Carelle Mang-Benza*, University of Western Ontario, Many shades of pink in the energy transition: Seeing women in extraction, production, distribution, and consumption sites 15 3:20 PM
Presenter Ryan Stock*, Northern Michigan University, Illuminant intersections: Gender politics of solar infrastructures 15 3:35 PM
Presenter Ed Atkins*, University of Bristol, Hydropower and the production of space: Competing territories of the Tapajós river, Brazil 15 3:50 PM
Presenter Miri Lavi-Neeman*, Arava Institute for Environmental studies, Tareq Abu-Hamed, Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, , From Camels to Panels: Renewable Subjectivities in Israel’s solar energy frontier 15 4:05 PM

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