Environmental Philosophy

Volume 17, Issue 2, Fall 2020

Rudy Kahsar
Pages 291-315

A Heideggerian Analysis of Renewable Energy and The Electric Grid
Converting Nature to Standing Reserve

Renewable energy technology is often seen as a positive expression of technology, meeting energy needs with minimal environmental impact. But, by integrating nature (e.g., wind and sunlight) with the ordering of the electric grid, renewables silently convert that nature into what Martin Heidegger referred to as standing reserve—resources of the technological commodity chain to be ordered, controlled, converted, and consumed on demand. However, it may be possible to mitigate the downsides of this process through a transition to more decentralized, local sources of renewable energy operations and management that maintain awareness of the ways in which energy is generated and distributed.