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Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Publication details for Professor Sandra Bell

Knight, D. & Bell, S. (2013). Pandora's Box: photovoltaic energy and economic crisis in Greece. Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy 5(3): 033110.

Author(s) from Durham


The Greek photovoltaic program was launched in 2006 and rebranded in 2011 as
a way to repay debt and decrease national deficit. The scheme promotes new
livelihood opportunities on all levels, from micro-scale home installations to
macro-scale solar parks producing energy for international export. Offering
potential economic stability to a nation at the fore of global neoliberal crisis, solar
energy also presents an alternative to petroleum and lignite that currently dominate
the energy sector. However, there are many hesitations and conflicting rhetorics
surrounding the photovoltaic drive. Its success or failure as a sustainable economic
pathway lies as much in understanding local nuances of social relations and
historical consciousness as in governmental policy. This paper presents the findings
from preliminary research that aims to “scale” all levels of the Greek photovoltaic
experience and raises questions of energy policy, neoliberal rationale, and
the relationship between local and global socioeconomic systems. It considers the
everyday cultural complexities of implementing energy policy and assesses the
contribution of an ethnographic approach to interdisciplinary energy research.