1st Edition

Energy Fables Challenging Ideas in the Energy Sector

Edited By Jenny Rinkinen, Elizabeth Shove, Jacopo Torriti Copyright 2019
    142 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    142 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Energy Fables: Challenging Ideas in the Energy Sector takes a fresh look at key terms and concepts around which energy research and policy are organised.

    Drawing on recent research in energy and transport studies, and combining this with concepts from sociology, economics, social theory and technology studies, the chapters in this collection review and challenge different aspects of received wisdom. Brief but critical introductions to classic notions like those of ‘energy efficiency’, ‘elasticity’, ‘energy services’ and the ‘energy trilemma’, together with discussions and analyses of well-worn phrases about ‘low hanging fruit’ and ‘keeping the lights on’, articulate aspects of the energy debate that are often taken for granted. In re-working these established themes and adding twists to familiar tales, the authors develop a repertoire of new ideas about the fundamentals of energy demand and carbon reduction.

    This book presents a valuable and thought-provoking resource for students, researchers and policy-makers interested in energy demand, politics and policy.

    List of contributors


    1. Introduction

    Elizabeth Shove, Jacopo Torriti and Jenny Rinkinen

    Part I. What is energy for?

    2. Energy Demand

    Jenny Rinkinen and Elizabeth Shove

    3. Energy Services

    Janine Morley

    Part II. Characteristics

    4. Energy Efficiency

    Elizabeth Shove

    5. Rebound

    Greg Marsden

    6. Elasticity

    Jacopo Torriti

    Part III. Injunctions

    7. Low Hanging Fruit

    Elizabeth Shove and Noel Cass

    8. Keeping the Lights on

    Gordon Walker

    9. Promoting Smart Homes

    Mike Hazas and Yolande Strengers

    Part IV. Policies

    10. The Energy Trilemma

    Jenny Rinkinen and Elizabeth Shove

    11. Flexibility

    Jacopo Torriti

    12. Non-Energy Policy

    Sarah Royston and Jan Selby

    13. Postscript: Can Energy Researchers and Policy Makers Change their Spots?

    Elizabeth Shove, Jenny Rinkinen and Jacopo Torriti



    Jenny Rinkinen is a Researcher in the Centre for Consumer Society Research at the University of Helsinki, Finland.

    Elizabeth Shove is a Professor in the Department of Sociology, Lancaster University, UK, and was PI of the DEMAND Research Center. She is the author/editor of numerous titles, including The Nexus of Practices: Connections, Constellations, Practitioners (Routledge, 2017, with Allison Hui and Theodore Schatzki) and Sustainable Practices: Social Theory and Climate Change (Routledge, 2013, with Nicola Spurling).

    Jacopo Torriti is Professor of Energy Economics and Policy in the School of the Built Environment, University of Reading, UK, and author of Peak Energy Demand and Demand Side Response (Routledge, 2016).

    "Story-telling helps people understand their place in the world, from the campfire to climate change’s Talanoa Dialogue. This volume will aid everyone’s understanding of the stories and phrases that people use to navigate the complex landscape of energy demand." -- Jim Skea, Professor of Sustainable Energy, Imperial College London, UK

    "This book is essential reading for policy makers who think they can solve climate change by promoting energy efficiency and adding more renewable energy sources. Energy Fables shows that energy demand should be the main topic of research and policy intervention." -- Kris De Decker, Low-tech Magazine, Spain

    "Energy Fables provides a challenge to the way we think about energy. Some contributions will doubtless be controversial, but the sustained focus on how energy is used and the social construction of energy demand is thought-provoking and welcome." -- Nick Eyre, Director of the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions, UK  

    "While acknowledging these difficulties, this book takes an important step in encouraging more open conversations about the conflicts these fables highlight and the possibilities for adapting energy work to new scientific and practical challenges and possibilities." -- Mithra Moezzi, Buildings & Cities