Energy Fables : Challenging Ideas in the Energy Sector book cover
1st Edition

Energy Fables
Challenging Ideas in the Energy Sector

ISBN 9780367027797
Published May 23, 2019 by Routledge
142 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

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


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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