The objective of this research stay and research collaboration is to develop an integrated analytical framework to study the rural dimensions of energy infrastructure development and energy transitions in the Global North.
How to secure reliable, affordable and environmentally sustainable energy in the context of climate change is one of the main challenges of the 21st century. As a result, many countries are investing heavily in energy projects necessary for the realisation of sustainable futures. Rural areas are crucial for low-emission energy transitions. They provide the necessary resources for such transitions, serve as sites for the generation and transmission of energy, and are important sites for adapting to and mitigating climate change. Yet so far, the rural dimensions of energy transitions, especially in the Global North, remain understudied. This research gap leaves unanswered important questions about how evolving energy systems are entwined with, and are shaped by, rural conditions, and how these in turn transform rural landscapes and livelihoods. We thus argue that in order to address climate challenges, energy transitions and rural transformations need to be studied in an integrated manner.
To do this, the Rural Transformations research group will collaborate with interdisciplinary researchers at the (in)Secure Landscapes lab at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Specifically, the collaboration will facilitate a 12-month research stay for one US-based postdoc to contribute to: 1) developing an analytical framework to study the rural dimensions of energy infrastructure development and energy transitions in the Global North; 2) develop mixed methods approaches integrating GIS and qualitative methods to study the nexus energy development and marginalisation in rural settings; and 2) develop conceptual models for exploring and explaining the creation of energy landscapes in marginal and rural areas in the Global North.