Awards

The Energy & Environment Speciality Group is proud to sponsor six types of awards:

Carly Griffith, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Carly will be in North Dakota in late May/early June to conduct dissertation research on the legal and environmental history of contested mineral rights to the Missouri riverbed amid the Bakken oil boom. This research includes a partnership with the Dakota Resource Council to produce a story map on jurisdictional complexity around land and mineral rights on the Fort Berthold Reservation of Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation which she hopes to complete during the summer of 2022.

Adam Gallaher, University of Connecticut

Adam will be conducting research related to his dissertation which aims to explore the replacement dynamics between electric vehicles and internal combustion vehicles in Connecticut. By integrating a dataset containing vehicles in operation from 2013 to 2022 with a DOE/EPA vehicle dataset containing miles per gallon, tailpipe emissions, average cost of operation, and other associated attributes. Adam hopes to complete this work during the fall of 2022.

Erik Post, University of British Columbia

Erik Post will draw on 12 months of participant observation in Nahua and Totonac territories in Mexico to bring scholarship on extractivism and imperialism into an empirically grounded conversation about the articulation of extractivism in Latin America through multiscalar power relations. His doctoral project proposes a novel conceptualization of imperialist extractivism and analyzes how Indigenous Nahua and Totonac communities have resisted energy and mining projects and formulated decolonial alternative futures through so-called Projects of Life.

Yue Guo, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences

My research is at the interface of energy geography, economic geography, international business, and international political economy, with a focus on globalization and sustainability transitions of energy companies. I work on the integration of Chinese national energy companies into global networks of production and finance, shedding light on an important contemporary dynamic shaping high and low carbon transitions. Specifically, I study the case of overseas investment of China’s national oil companies (NOCs), investigating the process of strategic coupling and network switching in oil and gas sector within different foreign territories, as well as the evolutionary path of the company to adapt to regional low-carbon transition. Serving as Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Officer at the Energy Geographies Research Group (EnGRG) of the RGS-IBG, I operate a WeChat Official Account on energy geographies, which is dedicated to introducing international events in the field of energy geographies for Chinese scholars. I am willing to further promote academic exchanges between Chinese energy geographers and international peers.

Edgar Virgüez, Duke University

"Assessing the effect of incorporating land-use parcel-level data and local zoning ordinances when quantifying renewable energy resources potential"

Abstract

The transition towards a net-zero United States economy demands an unprecedented deployment of renewable energy. Multiple studies have recently identified optimal pathways towards this goal; however, most lack the necessary granularity to identify trade-offs between different siting options. This study assesses the effect of incorporating land-use parcel-level data and local zoning ordinances when quantifying the resource potential for renewable energy projects. The study uses utility-scale solar photovoltaics (PV) to perform suitability and supply cost analysis of PV projects in North Carolina, one of the states with the highest PV capacity installed. Exploring three scenarios that represent conditions ranging from restrictive to favorable, the study finds a substantial reduction of PV resource potential when incorporating land-use and local zoning ordinances. Estimates of areas suitable for PV projects in the state reduce as much as ~8 million acres but yield supply costs similar to national averages. Results within ecosystems with similar characteristics (ecoregions) show that while ecoregion-specific supply cost is comparable in all three scenarios, the land requirements (kW/acre) differ. Using one of the most representative ecoregions in the country, Southeastern Plains, the study finds that the U.S. could install ~1,2 TW of PV projects just in this area. This capacity exceeds the required expansion to achieve a net-zero electric power system by 2030. The study's findings highlight the necessity of integrating land-use restrictions into siting models while simultaneously increasing their spatial granularity. The python-based user-friendly siting tool developed for the study illustrates the potential application of this type of model.

Benjamin Sovacool, University of Sussex Business School

"Dispossessed by decarbonization: Reducing vulnerability, injustice, and inequality in the lived experience of low-carbon pathways." (2021) World Development 137: 105116

Abstract

This study examines the justice and equity implications of four low-carbon transitions, and it reveals the “lived experiences” of decarbonisation as manifested across Africa and Europe. Based on extensive, original mixed methods empirical research – including expert interviews, focus groups, internet forums, community interviews, and extended site visits and naturalistic observation – it asks: How are four specific decarbonisation pathways linked to negative impacts within specific communities? Relatedly, what vulnerabilities do these transitions exacerbate in these communities? Lastly, how can such vulnerabilities be better addressed with policy? The paper documents a troublesome cohabitation between French wineries and nuclear power, the negative effects on labor groups and workers in Eastern Germany by a transition to solar energy, the stark embodied externalities in electronic waste (e-waste) flows from smart meters accumulating in Ghana, and the precarious exploitation of children involved in cobalt mining for electric vehicle batteries in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The aims and objectives of the study are threefold: (1) to showcase how four very different vulnerable communities have been affected by the negative impacts of decarbonisation; (2) to reveal tensions and tradeoffs between European transitions and local and global justice concerns; and (3) to inform energy and climate policy. In identifying these objectives, our goal is not to stop or slow down all low-carbon transitions. Rather, the study suggests that the research and policy communities ought to account for, and seek to minimize, a broader range of social and environmental sustainability risks. Sustainability transitions and decarbonisation pathways must become more egalitarian, fair, and just.

Carys Behnke, Georgia State University

"Blocking out the Sun: Uneven Geographies of Rooftop Solar in Atlanta, GA"

Abstract

My research is on the uneven geography of rooftop solar in Atlanta, Ga. I used solar permit applications and demographic data to provide a spatial analysis of solar energy adoption across the city. In Atlanta, 62% of solar installation permits are in majority-white census tracts, though the majority of permits have been located in majority-Black neighborhoods over the last two years. The rapid increase in adoption rates initially appeared to show a possible decrease in racial disparities within Atlanta’s energy market. However, looking at the individual home sale histories, indicators show that these permits are mostly located in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods, installed by wealthier and whiter homeowners, not legacy residents. I conclude that not only are there racial, economic, and geographic disparities of solar adoption in the city, but that solar appears to be a possible measure for future population change.

6) Luten Lifetime Achievement Award