Here comes the sun: the evolution of a prosuming project within a social housing estate

Fox, Nicolette (2018) Here comes the sun: the evolution of a prosuming project within a social housing estate. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

The thesis addresses the research question of how and why ‘prosuming’ solar electricity evolves over time among social housing tenants with prepayment electricity meters. Prosuming is defined here as deliberately and simultaneously producing and consuming electricity. Using a Social Practice Theory framework, but also drawing on Time Geography, the thesis analyses prosuming as a ‘project’. This sees practitioners actively mobilising elements (meanings, skills and materials), as well as orchestrating everyday practices (i.e. laundering) and projects (i.e. 'Feeding-the-Meter') to the fulfilment of the 'Prosuming Project'.

The overarching research question is ‘How and why does prosuming evolve for social housing tenants?’ It is broken down into four subsidiary questions that firstly explore the period before solar panels, and then the three stages of the conceptual framework – adopting, establishing and committing to the Prosuming Project. The first question addresses how householders use electricity prior to the installation of solar panels and the role of two dominant, institutional projects: 'Feeding-the-Meter' and 'Maintaining-Family-Routines'. The second examines the features of households adopting the Prosuming Project and the need to mobilise a set of elements from within a disadvantaged community. The third question explores how the establishing phase is marked by a complex relationship between prosuming as a secondary, voluntary project, and dominant, institutional projects. This is further complicated by the role of synchronicity, finances and the changing seasons. The final subsidiary question addresses how a new vocabulary of elements emerged as practitioners committed to the Prosuming Project. It also explores how a transformative process took place both for practitioner and the project itself. In particular it highlights the potential in the future for an Energy Shifting, Storing, Saving & Sharing Project that could support disadvantaged communities, if they are able to mobilise the elements they need to perform it.

This case study adopts an in-depth qualitative methodology, using serial interviews with seven households over ten months. The interviewees live in an area that in 2010 was ranked as within the ten percent most deprived in England, according to English Indices of Deprivation (DCLG). The research explores their lived experiences of the Prosuming Project. The thesis focuses on UK social housing tenants, who appear not to have been researched before for a prosuming-focused, social practice study. This enables the research to contribute to topical debates about future sustainability ‘winners and losers’. It also offers methodological insights into undertaking a social practice case study that explored lived experiences within a disadvantaged community. The research provides insights into how prosuming solar power is embedded in everyday life: how it can be supported or challenged by dominant projects, and how householders may develop new skills, understandings, and ways of using materials as their performances evolve.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic theory. Demography > HB0801 Consumption. Demand > HB0820 Household consumption. Consumer demand
T Technology > TJ Mechanical engineering and machinery > TJ0807 Renewable energy sources > TJ0810 Solar energy
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2018 11:04
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2018 11:04
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/73405

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