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Durham University

Durham Energy Institute

Past Events

Find out about some of the previous events held by Durham Energy Institute:

Energy on tour: the politics of visitor access to power generation sites

15th December 2016, 13:00 to 14:00, E245, School of Engineering & Computing Sciences, Dr Tristan Loloum

The presentation will explore the social meanings of electricity by analysing the ways in which power infrastructures are accommodated, toured and gazed upon for recreational, educational and marketing purposes. Why would energy corporations want to show their technology to the public? Although there seems to be “obvious” public relations and marketing strategies behind such initiatives (branding, recruitment, CSR, transparency, corporate democracy, risk perception management, etc.), how exactly do these strategies make sense in local and national contexts? Who are they targeting and how do visitors experience these “energy tours”?

The presentation will focus essentially on nuclear power stations and hydroelectric dams, with special focus on EDF sites. Nuclear stations have always had an essential part in what some call “industrial tourism”, although in varying forms. The initial enthusiasm towards nuclear energy in the 1960s and 70s has been followed by strong suspicion resulting from nuclear accidents and terrorist threats. Hydropower dams have also been important element for tourism development in mountain regions, not only through the opening up of remote valleys through electrification, but also by attracting visitors towards newly accessible and contrasting landscapes of scenic nature and industrial gigantism. EDF faces difficult challenges as energy prices run low and major investments are required for low carbon transition. Public relations are therefore crucial to share their concerns as corporations, manage risk perception and raise public awareness.

More generally, “energy tourism” questions the evolving perception of energy infrastructure in
society, at times of high uncertainty and public diffidence.

Dr. Tristan Loloum is a visiting fellow at DEI in the Anthropology Department. His postdoctoral research focuses on the public relation strategies of energy groups and the uses of art, culture and tourism in the energy sector as fields of expression for corporate communication and political protest.

Contact for more information about this event.