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Smart Grid Knowledges and the State

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Gareth Powells



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


In this paper we call for a closer analysis of the role of the nation state in shaping the geographies of knowledge created through public-private infrastructure collaborations, focusing on the empirical case of smart grids. We draw upon contributions from economic geographers and political scientists, identifying an empirical and analytical blind spot around how states shape knowledge production and mobility in regulated infrastructure economies. We argue that nation state institutions have strong influence through their initial framing of what is relevant knowledge, and the geography of its applicability. The type of knowledge valued by the state institutions in our two case studies of public-private smart grid initiatives is that which can be rescaled to apply to national energy systems, by being stripped of its local context. In practice, however, many types of knowledge are produced through smart grid experiments, including tacit, context-specific knowledge. In this short paper we demonstrate the need to be attentive to both corporate and policy theories about types of knowledge and their mobilities, in order to better understand the geographies of smart grid and other regulated infrastructure knowledges.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lovell H, Powells G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Area

Year: 2020

Volume: 52

Issue: 3

Pages: 583-590

Print publication date: 01/09/2020

Online publication date: 29/01/2020

Acceptance date: 22/01/2020

Date deposited: 23/01/2020

ISSN (print): 0004-0894

ISSN (electronic): 1475-4762

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd


DOI: 10.1111/area.12613


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