Mainstreaming Solar Energy in Small, Tropical Islands
Cultural and Policy Implications
This book explores how cultural considerations can improve policymaking to achieve mainstream solar energy in small, tropical islands.
Focusing on Trinidad, Barbados and Oʻahu, Kiron C. Neale looks at how culture can affect and be affected by the policies that support the household adoption of two key energy technologies: solar water heating and photovoltaics. Drawing on interviews with residents and energy officials, and an examination of the institutional, socio-economic and physical factors that affect energy systems such as governance structures and energy resource availability, the author explores themes including the impact of insularity on energy transitions and behavioural and cultural change. Overall, this book rebrands policies as instruments of cultural change and puts forward recommendations applicable to all small, tropical islands.
Following the islands’ transition to renewable energy, this book will be of great interest to scholars of energy policy, energy transitions, climate change, cultural studies and small states development, as well as industry professionals working on energy policy implementation.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Small Islands, Energy Transitions and ‘Mainstream Culture’
1. ‘Sun, Sea, Sand’ and Solar Energy
2. Energy Transitions and The Mainstream
3. Energy Transitions and Mainstream Energy Cultures
Part 2: Beginning the Household Solar Energy Transition
4. Agriculture, Fossils Fuels and Electricity
5. Electricity and Mainstream Energy Cultures
Part 3: Transitioning to and through Household Solar Energy Technologies
6. Electricity, Solar Hot Water and Mainstream Cultural Change
7. Solar Water Heating, PV and Policy Implementation
Part 4: Mainstreaming Solar Energy in Small, Tropical Islands
8. Conclusions on Mainstreaming Solar Energy
Kiron C. Neale completed his postgraduate studies at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute in 2018, and is currently involved in coordinating energy efficiency projects for small to medium-sized enterprises in Oxfordshire as the EiE Environmental Officer at Oxford Brookes University, UK. He is from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean and grew up in Southern Trinidad (San Fernando and Princes Town).
"Kiron has a unique and insightful perspective on emerging energy transitions in Trinidad, Barbados and O¿ahu. Focusing on culture, an under-explored topic of energy transitions, Kiron’s research provides rich insights, and aligned policy recommendations, into how solar can be brought out of niche market and social environments and into the mainstream." -- Rebecca Ford, Strathclyde Chancellor's Fellow, University of Strathclyde, UK
"A creative and rigorous book that examines an understudied topic, the household and cultural uses of solar energy in small island developing states. It shows that tropical island countries have far more to offer the world than sun, sea, and sand. Important reading for those who care about energy transitions across less common paths." -- Benjamin Sovacool, Professor of Energy Policy, Director of the Sussex Energy Group, & Director of the Center on Innovation and Energy Demand, University of Sussex, UK
"This book tackles the interesting question of how solar energy can be introduced into island economies. Drawing on evidence from islands with a range of different histories and resource endowments, it provides a fresh approach to island energy systems, using thinking from cultural studies and innovation theories to inform how practice and policy might change." -- Nick Eyre, Professor of Energy and Climate Policy & Director of the UK Centre for Research on Energy Demand, University of Oxford
"Small island populations are minor contributors to global climate change but among the most sensitive and vulnerable to its impacts, such as sea level rise. Kiron Neale’s probing, comparative study of energy transitions away from fossil fuels to renewable energy in the island communities of Trinidad, Barbados, and O¿ahu is among the first to take both the culture of energy and energy of culture seriously in sustainability transitions. The insights build constructively on socio-technical transitions theory and are of significance to energy regimes in the global North and South." -- Thomas Thornton, Dean of Arts and Sciences & Vice Provost for Research and Sponsored Programs, University of Alaska Southeast, USA
"Islands matter: Clean and abundant alternative energy from the sun is being mainstreamed in tropical, small island communities, assisting their transition away from fossil fuel dependence. With a focus on Barbados, O¿ahu and Trinidad, Kiron Neale argues convincingly that culture, policy and technology need to be aligned for such a transition to be successful." -- Godfrey Baldacchino, Professor of Sociology & Chairman of the Board of the Centre for Labour Studies, University of Malta
"This timely book provides very helpful new insights on the challenges and opportunities of establishing sustainable energy services in tropical islands. In particular, it will help practitioners, policy makers and their advisors map a path through the complex interactions of cultures, politics and technologies which must be navigated in order to deliver the development benefits from sustainable energy services that are so needed by communities in tropical islands." -- John Holmes, Senior Research Fellow in Environmental Policy, University of Oxford, UK
"This book is written with a lovely, light touch – just like a Caribbean wind, or the lapping waves. It shows how a just energy transition can occur in small islands through the use of renewable, solar power. The text combines a clear understanding of the role of culture in what is acceptable to people and investigates how policy can combine with this to achieve the transition. The overall perspective links an academic approach with that of a realistic recognition of what is needed to help these islands transform their energy systems. There are over 2000 oceanic islands that could build on the evidence from the three islands studied – Trinidad, Barbados and O¿ahu in Hawaii. These small islands may not contribute large amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, but they are amongst the first to suffer from rising sea level. This book provides a hopeful outlook for them." -- Brenda Boardman, Emeritus Research Fellow, University of Oxford, UK
"What does the steel drum have to do with climate change? Neale's book is a treasure, as it embeds cultural path dependencies and social barriers in the climate change discourse and catalyzes a transition of "energy cultures" with policy relevant insights. It highlights that climate change adaptation and mitigation are more than technical problems and shows ways of dealing with solar technologies that even small island states can fall back on. This book hopefully finds its way into concrete policy decisions steering future climate resilient pathways." -- Beate Ratter, Professor of Integrative Geography and Coastal Research, University of Hamburg, Germany
"I found Kiron Neale’s focus on the cultural and political factors of tropical Island energy transitions was not only interesting, but very useful. Neale provides guidance on why and how culture critically affects tropical island energy transitions and he does this with an inhabitant’s understanding. He has also very helpfully presented guidance on how to think through socio-technical energy transitions and mainstreaming of technologies more broadly. While I recommend this book to people interested in energy transitions, renewable energy and island scholarships, I also recommend it to those who want to understand the critical (cultural, political, technical and logistic) factors that affect other changes that are occurring in societies. For energy policy makers, energy market operators and power engineers – as you work on introducing renewables into society, keep this book near and refer to it as you go – I am confident it will be a useful guide for your work." -- Phillipa Watson, Research Fellow, School of Technology, Environments & Design, University of Tasmania, Australia