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 Max Lacey-Barnacle

Max Lacey-Barnacle

Research student, Welsh School of Architecture

Max's academic background is in the Social Sciences, where he holds a BA in Politics and International Relations from the University of Sussex and a Masters in Environment, Politics and Globalisation from Kings College London.

He has also gained experience in environmental policy and local government, working on sustainability projects with Lambeth council and with a community energy group as part of his MA thesis on an urban renewable energy co-operative in Brixton, London.

Having joined the WSA in 2014 and building on this research interest in a rapidly growing community energy sector, he is currently pursuing a highly interdisciplinary PhD using a comparative analysis of different organisational types around urban community energy and exploring the 'energy justice' implications of these projects within the built environment.

Thesis

Exploring local energy justice in times of austerity: civic energy sector low-carbon transitions in Bristol City

The recent growth of renewable energy deployment in the UK is resulting in the gradual emergence of a new decentralised energy infrastructure, in which ‘environmental goods’, such as solar and wind energy technologies, are being distributed across multiple modes of implementation through various organisational forms. In the context of a post-crisis society being fundamentally reshaped by policies of fiscal austerity, the growing involvement of ‘local’ and ‘community’ based organisations in energy transitions raises questions of both equity and justice – such as which communities are engaging in these transitions? These concerns are most apparent when we consider the increasingly varied capacities of disparate communities to ‘capture the value’ of local energy generation projects and the multiplicity of social, economic and environmental benefits they can potentially engender. Current civil society led energy transitions therefore risk reproducing unequal socio-economic structures and exacerbating social inequalities, leading to the need for a deeper integration of ‘energy justice’ concerns into both the field of socio-technical transitions and emerging local energy infrastructures.

Positioned at the forefront of this transition as the 2015 European Green Capital, Bristol hopes to become the UK’s first ‘solar city’. With an ambitious target of over 1GW of solar PV deployed by 2020 and an active community energy sector, the city plays host to a large variety of urban community solar projects. Focusing on the distribution of solar PV technology in Bristol, this research will critically apply the ‘triumvirate of tenets’ within energy justice – otherwise known as procedural, distributive and recognition justice – to the prominent legal models and organisational types within the community energy sector, whilst exploring the energy justice implications of theories of socio-technical transitions. Drawing on three phases of qualitative fieldwork, the PhD will outline the potential justice implications of different ‘niche’ organisational types within Bristol City and the growth thereof.