Earth, wind and fire: island energy landscapes of the Anthropocene



Carbon-based systems of energy are rapidly unravelling. The imperative of climate emergency is reshaping energy landscapes, in some instances leading to the reappraisal of energy options hitherto sidelined. This paper deals with the emerging energy landscapes of the Netherlands and Iceland through historically informed tales that focus on islands. While vastly different in historical and geographical context and scale, these cases reveal the necessity of geographical nuance facilitated by the ways insular places offer insights into energy imaginaries of the Anthropocene. The former is a historicised narrative about the reinvention of wind energy as natural gas is being ousted. It focuses on the proposed Dogger Bank Power Link Islands, the first of which is scheduled to emerge in the coming years. The latter, also historically informed, identifies the context for current large wind energy proposals in Iceland, and then contrasts these with the authors’ empirical observations from the small peripheral island of Grímsey. There wind energy is also being reinvented for ousting the predominant oil infrastructure on the island. These cases represent experimental opportunities for envisioning Anthropocene futures intended to destabilize imaginaries of growth in ways that open spaces for negotiation and contestation. They problematize dominant narratives that render wind energy development visible and knowable as a necessary intervention. Emergent from this is wind’s decentred energy landscape in the Anthropocene; an epoch where energy is revealed in its importance to our societies, dispelling the human exceptionalism implicit in the nomenclature whilst at the same time showing how our actions come to matter. The collision of the Earth and ourselves under the terms of climate emergency begs the question whether our differences are the only ones that matter? But also, if it matters what we have done, then surely it matters what we have not done and chosen to ignore.

Research Papers


2022-06-19 — Updated on 2022-11-27


How to Cite

Huijbens, E., & Benediktsson, K. (2022). Earth, wind and fire: island energy landscapes of the Anthropocene. Fennia - International Journal of Geography, 199(2), 188–202. (Original work published June 19, 2022)