CApE Talks: The Colour of Energy: A solarpunk story of wild green electricity

Talk by Laura Watts, Visiting Professor, Center for Applied Ecological Thinking (CApE).

The future is green; green is good; no more so than with green energy. But what is green about electricity? Where are the green electrons in a length of electricity grid cable? There are, in physical terms, no electrons wearing green hats; there is no measurable difference between an electron generated by a wind turbine and another generated by a fossil fuel power station. So what and where is green energy? –An important question, given that it is taken as an unquestioned social good.

This is the story of how electricity gains its colour, the work involved in making it ‘green’ and ‘good’ in low carbon dioxide emissions per kilowatthour, but the story does not end there. Informed by ethnographic fieldwork on a North Sea energy island, the story continues to ask: what other kinds of ‘good’ electricity might be possible? Can there be a speculative future with hopeful and resilient electricity grids as part of a place and community, ones perhaps more wild, more storm-driven, and more powerful.