Arnaud Crétot and Robin Deloof became the first vagabonds of energy in 2011. Engineering students back then, they left for one year, visiting 15 countries and analyzing more than 60 energy projects. Observations before departure were straightforward: humans need large amounts of energy while the environment is deteriorating due to its production, and risks of shortage threaten our societies, creating important tensions. A solution needs to be found. By understanding how energy choices are made in different countries, the vagabonds hoped to find THE ultimate solution, the solution they dreamed of for a sustainable future.
They may not have found it. But what they learnt was worth the journey.
The following documentary (mostly in French) summarizes the main lessons learnt from this journey:
Technical rationality alone is not enough to explain energy choices. The most effective technology can only be implemented if the social fabric is ready to receive it. In a way, the main lesson learnt from this journey is that energy is a human problem.
Everyone has an opinion about energy. All human activities depend on it, and as such all governments know the importance of the role of energy in geopolitical affairs. It is clear that solutions that work here do not necessarily work there, and that solutions that proved themselves in the laboratory are systematically rejected by the social fabric. A sociology of energy needs to emerge in order to understand the social reasons that make the success or failure of energy projects.
The world invariably puts itself in the hands of technicians to develop solutions. But no effective solution will emerge as long as human societies and the energy they consume are not considered together as a whole. For it is not a question of finding a new source of energy to replace the previous ones – no single source is perfect; it is really a question of knowing whether the present modes of lives and societal organizations will allow for the world to sustain itself under realistic constraints. The real question of energy is there, quite far from technical considerations, in fact.
There is an urgent need to place humanity, its complexity, its habits, its modes of organization, its power relationships and its aspirations at the center of the energy challenge. It is with this in mind that the new team of vagabonds of the energy will leave in October 2016 and observe the world.
The goal of the vagabonds of energy is to participate in the emergence of a sociology of energy which recognizes that the human factor characterizes the performance of energy systems at all levels.