Community low carbon energy transitions in Irish Islands: a transdisciplinary approach
MetadataShow full item record
The role of communities has been identified as significant in the future success of Ireland’s transition towards a decarbonised energy system. At the community level, there are different understandings of, and attitudes to, sustainability and energy use. This is particularly evident in island communities where social interactions, activities and services are compositionally divergent from those in mainland communities. This thesis argues that current habits of categorising communities’ energy needs by technology experts’ standards creates an Irish energy planning environment oblivious to the distinctive energy needs of island communities. This classification of situated energy knowledges under the rational terms of experts’ or policymakers’ standards distorts and blurs the authenticity of community insights influencing the energy planning process in island communities. Demand and perceptions of energy are place-based, thus island situated energy knowledges and community knowledge networks differ epistemologically from the typically ubiquitous approaches of technology and policy. Within these peripheral communities, the conventional “one-size-fits-all” national approach to community engagement and public consultation has proved unsuccessful. This thesis argues that prevailing practices promoting and recognising expert knowledge over local knowledge fosters a community engagement process that is inattentive and indifferent to the distinctive and divergent needs of island communities. This research reports how predominant technical approaches to community energy planning are further marginalising periphery or island communities where, typically, local knowledge is highly valued. These findings are developed through an island-based case study analysis of Inis Oírr Island, in the Aran Islands, in the West of Ireland. Drawing on a social-constructivist perspective embedded in a post-normal science approach this research assesses how current generic approaches to community consultation can be redefined to be inclusive of all knowledge in the complex energy issue. This research further argues that the complex issue of community low carbon energy transitions requires investigation from multiples disciplinary perspectives. The innovative transdisciplinary methodology developed, applied and analysed in this research enabled a holistic investigation of the role of situated energy knowledges and community knowledge networks in successful community low carbon energy transitions. Three sensitising concepts were developed to guide the empirical investigations in this work - “knowledge”, “governance” and iv “communication”. Building on results from this empirical study with residents in Inis Oírr, this research identified three mechanisms where situated energy knowledges mould perceptions and understanding of energy that are not present in existing literature. First - the role of the case-study community’s peripherality in shaping its daily energy practices. Second – their geographic and climate based experiences and household energy adaptations to account for them. And third – the case-study community’s previous experiences of external energy governance structures and how this affects their levels of participation in energy planning processes. Finally, this research aims to create new knowledge of the role of situated energy knowledges and community knowledge networks through the application of a transdisciplinary methodology that combines social scientific and engineering techniques to create a holistic picture of appropriate low carbon energy transitions for Inis Oírr island. The transdisciplinary approach developed for this research enabled the participants and the researcher to engage in a co-creative energy planning process where all types of knowledge were given legitimacy and equal respect. This research contributes to a better understanding of pathways to achieving a more inclusive, holistic and co-creative community energy transition process that can better adapt to the atypical energy needs of island communities. The innovative methodological approach developed for this research revealed the participants’ capacities to engage successfully in designing their own low carbon energy future.
The following license files are associated with this item:
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Ireland
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Rights of nature in Ireland: towards a living island of rights-bearing communities. Submission to the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss Brennan, Ciara; Doran, Peter; Hough, Alison; Joyce-Kemper, Sabrina; Killean, Rachel; Kirby, Peadar; McNeill, Bróna; Nevin, Claire; Owens, Declan; Sullivan, Lynda; Tobin, Brendan (Environmental Justice Network Ireland: EJNI, 2022-09)There is growing interest in the concept of ‘Rights of Nature’ and the legal possibilities it offers as a means of protecting the natural world when regulatory efforts fail. David Boyd, the current UN Special Rapporteur ...
What are the environmental and economic impacts of a wind power system on a small rural community in East Galway? Dilleen, Padhraic (Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, 2010)As the world is getting increasingly more concerned about the environment and the fear that the end of fossil fuels is coming soon; people are researching into different ways of meeting our energy needs in the future. One ...
A comparative study in two secondary schools aimed at improving their energy management: Archbishop McHale College Tuam, Coláiste Cholmcille Indreabhánn Tarr, Andrew (Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, 2010)Climate change is a crisis that is going to affect all of our lives in the future. Ireland is expected to have increased storms and rain throughout the country. This will affect our lives greatly unless we do something ...