Alternative energy capital of the world? Fix, risk, and solar energy in Los Angeles’ urban periphery

Sean F Kennedy, Ryan Stock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

California is one of the most climate-challenged regions of North America and is considered the vanguard of climate action in the United States. California's climate policy framework has strongly promoted the expansion of renewable energy infrastructure, and the state generates more solar energy than any other in the nation. Using the case of Lancaster, a city of 170,000 residents in northern Los Angeles County seeking to position itself as the “alternative energy capital of the world,” this article examines private investments in solar energy infrastructure as a response to California's entwined economic and ecological crises. Drawing on recent scholarship on socioecological fix, we argue that private accumulation through renewable energy infrastructures in California has required both the presence of crisis conditions and innovations in financial risk mitigation that manage tensions between mobility and fixity inherent in the formation of fixed capital. However, a narrow focus on short-term financial risk obviates other forms of risk, including future impacts of extreme weather on grid infrastructure and electricity supply. While this does not foreclose opportunities for solar energy infrastructure to support positive social and ecological transformation, we argue that such opportunities may be constrained under a mode of energy transition predicated on private accumulation.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number251484862110543
JournalEnvironment and Planning E: Nature and Space
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Dec 31 2021

Keywords

  • Socioecological fix
  • electricity capital
  • risk
  • capital switching
  • solar

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