Assembling markets for wind power : an inquiry into the making of market devices

Abstract : This project studies the making of a market for wind power in France. Markets for wind power are often referred to as ‘political markets: On the one hand, wind power has the potential to reduce CO2-emissions and thus stall the effects of electricity generation on climate change; and on the other hand, as an economic good, wind power is said to suffer from (techno-economic) ‘disabilities', such as high costs, fluctuating and unpredictable generation, etc. Therefore, because of its performance as a good, it is argued that the survival of wind power in the market is premised on different instruments, some of which I will refer to as ‘prosthetic devices'. This thesis inquires into two such prosthetic devices: The feed-in tariff and the wind power development zones (ZDE) as they are negotiated and practiced in France, and also the ways in which they affect the making of markets for wind power. Theoretically, this dissertation mobilizes a constructivist approach according to which markets are seen as socio-technical assemblages, stressing the heterogeneous and distributed character of their constituent elements. Furthermore, the approach allows questioning the deadlocked delineation between politics and economics, a delineation that appears to underlie the idea of the political market. Based on fieldwork in France, the core of this thesis is made up of two analyses; firstly, the definition of a feed-in tariff is empirically followed as a process of valuation in which value is seen as the outcome of irregular and costly activities, rather than the identification of an inherent value.To study how value, here in the form of a price, comes about in the case of wind power, five different empirical traces are followed with each one representing a distinct approach to valuation. These valuation proposals involve qualifying and disqualifying wind power, e.g., from CO2-reducing to CO2-emitting, and they span a range of controversies. The second analysis addresses the ZDE-device. It follows the device along two phases; namely, its conception and its emerging practice in a specific case, the territory of Pays de la Serre. The first phase is discussed as a politicization of wind power, a distinct framing of location in which the possibility for local opposition is enforced. The second phase, i.e. the practice of the device in Pays de la Serre, is better described as an economization of the landscape, a process of translating the territory according to one-dimensional layers. In their final presentation, these layers are accumulated and black-boxed, and the criteria for their construction disappear.
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Trine Pallesen. Assembling markets for wind power : an inquiry into the making of market devices. Economics and Finance. Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris, 2013. English. ⟨NNT : 2013ENMP0019⟩. ⟨pastel-00874816⟩

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