Regenerative Energy Communities is a 3-year long research project funded by the Swedish Energy Agency, as part of their program People, Energy Systems and Society (MESAM), and is a collaboration between Linnaeus University (Department of Design+Change), Linköping University (Department of Technology & Social Change) and Plymouth University (i-DAT)

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Poetic groundings with wind

Wind is a music of nature in motion. It can be as beautiful as it is tangible. It is a carrier of many things, yet hard to put in words.

My work on wind turbines has lately made me wonder about the poetics of the unnatural and unexpected in wind and motion. It has prompted me to wonder what is at risk of falling out of consideration in the pursuit of sustainable energy transitions?

Growing up on the beaches of the west coast of Sweden, Falkenberg ("Hawk mountain"), I learned early on that this meeting that occurs between wind and nature is equal parts effortless as it is violent and mending all at once. Later, in my twenties, I got swallowed within sandstorms in Middle Eastern mountains, both in terms of their beauty and unforgiving traits. I remember thinking at this time of wind as a constant traveler and kept wondering if we had met before in another place and time. then there were also days when wind left me alone in that desert silence. It is hard to explain now, but in such moment of the absolute absence of wind, it could feel as if the universe had abandoned one, reminded me of wind's presence and importance in life. I'm trying now to actively listen to my inner wind, which we all carry, to think about my ongoing relationship with wind as someone now wanting to design with wind.

photo of forest and seaside Swedish coastal landscape taken from top of a hill
Smörkull, a favourite windy spot on the Falkenberg coastline, author's image

Several years on, and I’ve now emerged from an engineering and design degree. I'm still interested in things and how they work, but the designer in me is longing for more than models catering to physical characteristics and efficiency. This has left me chasing what I think of as a poetics of wind, one sensitive to these immeasurable but important qualities. Similar to how Fred Carter spoke at our recent Open Lab of the importance of considering the potential "lyric needs" and "aeolian poetics" of energy practices that address physical needs, but in doing so, act also as a "lyrical" resource that can further energise "regenerative, resistant, or revolutionary social transformations" that look "beyond the material outputs of energy infrastructures and toward the psychic manifestation of a collective energy-imaginary-to-come".

I'm not sure if poetics is the right word here. When I use it, I mean poetics as something that can be many things, hold many perspectives, including immeasurable qualities. This can include what we would define as the regenerative values of a wind-based prototype, some of which cannot be measured in terms of efficiency or energy outputs, but are still crucial to the communities working within and with them. There are many things in society where the practical and poetic meet and are part of the conversation, such as in architecture or design. But how often are they considered in developments within renewables and sustainable energy transitions? Again, I can’t help but ask how sustainable we can be without a poetics of wind, and I wonder if it's at risk of falling out of consideration in the pursuit of efficiency dominated sustainable energy transitions as currently imagined?

I am also thinking now about how wind is not only a phenomenon - it can also be a consequence. By putting up a wind-based structure, by interrupting a wind flow, that wind flow becomes, at least partly, a consequence of what we have built. This is part of the politics and potentially poetics of working with such alterations in flows of natural and socially engaged materials. Wind is a volume that alters the character of things, and I sense that engaging with poetics can play an important role in subverting the form of current conversations around wind, and possibly retool, rescale and reassemble perspectives of renewables.

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