• Ursula Franklin and the Energy Transition

    Brian Sutherland
    Kanishka Sikri (see profile)
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    The energy sector is poised for rapid, critical growth and scaling of new technologies, where concerted efforts on the part of scientists, governments, industry and the public are of critical importance in achieving a low carbon future. Ursula Franklin's work on sustainability with the Science Council of Canada was a formative contribution to a better understanding of these technologies. Franklin founded the journal Conserver Society Notes in the 1970s and promoted a significant federal-provincial investment in research to develop solar energy approaches during this period. More fundamentally she spoke about the relations between government, prescriptive technology choice and its effects on rooting technological determinism, a concept other Science & Technology Studies (STS) scholars, such as Langdon Winner raised in relation to the decentralizing potential of solar energy. In this essay, part of the series on What Would Ursula Franklin Say?, I examine the emerging energy smart grid, questions around decentralized sources and sinks, and the standards-adoption which would need to occur toward the goal of symbiotic generation. Can we still achieve Sir Adam Beck's vision of providing energy to the public at cost in Ontario and other jurisdictions with peer-to-peer energy networks? If there are prescriptive technologies for a low carbon future, how can we privilege their selection against countervailing interests and short-term economic gain? Finally, how can other aspects of our culture become more sustainable through the infrastructure enquiry methods of the energy transition?
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    2 years ago


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