The construction of technology and place: Concentrating solar power conflicts in the United States

Sharlissa Moore, Edward J. Hackett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


There is sufficient space in the United States to site large-scale renewable energy technologies, yet siting decisions are often highly contentious with conflicting land-use values. This paper examines conflicts surrounding large-scale solar power siting through the lens of place-making and the co-shaping of place and technology. It traces the place-based conflicts over the Ivanpah solar power plant in California over five years, from designed to operational, in order to understand the evolving public engagement process in issues of place. Place-making can aid in understanding conflicts over renewable energy siting by interpreting stakeholder values. Through the place-making process, both the place and technology were shaped but could only be bent so far until they became something else entirely, making the negotiation of trade-offs difficult and the object of the negotiation a moving target. Moving forward, the challenge should be addressed that the technology and place must be sufficiently concrete to engage the public in siting decisions but accomplished early enough to avoid polarization and to facilitate mutual accommodation. Innovative forms of place-based participation are needed that would help citizens to debate the properties and trade-offs of energy systems in constructive ways downstream without damaging or breaking trust.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-78
Number of pages12
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Energy governance
  • Place-making
  • Solar siting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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