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Polyflexibility in Public Lighting

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Robert Shaw



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


This article introduces the concept of ‘Polyflexibility’ as a way of expressing the complexity of interacting forms of flexibility. The term, deriving from Henri Lefebvre’s concept of polyrhythmia, is used in contrast to conceptualizations of flexibility in energy studies which rest primarily on locating flexibility in either supply or demand. By focusing on the Polyflexibility of an energy system as a whole, we can better identify when, how and why certain systems have been flexible or inflexible. This is illustrated through a study of the different relationships between financial, political, technological, social, legal and other modalities at three moments of transition with public light in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK: the start of the transition from gas to electric lighting (1890-1907); the blackout period of World War Two (1938-1946); and the contemporary transition from sodium-vapour to LED (2012-).

Publication metadata

Author(s): Shaw R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Energy History/Revue d'histoire de l'énergie

Year: 2021

Volume: 5

Pages: epub ahead of print

Online publication date: 09/01/2021

Acceptance date: 27/11/2020

Date deposited: 27/11/2020

ISSN (electronic): 2649-3055