Financial or societal returns? Exploring the ambiguous role of intermunicipal energy company Fluvius in the energy transition in Flanders
Energy systems are key sites of spatial and socio-political transformation. This paper explores the role of distribution network operator Fluvius in the energy transition in Flanders. We examine the tension between the societal expectation for this public company to contribute to a more sustainable energy system, and the financial and spatial conditions for its operation. The analysis is based on 20 in-depth interviews, and advances the three spatial concepts of density, spatial selectivity, and scale, to highlight the socio-spatial tensions surrounding energy distribution. It reveals questions around energy tariffs for dense versus sparse areas, locational choices for collective heating and renewable production, and the spatial redistribution of the cost of energy transition. Although fundamentally political, the regulation and management of such issues is often framed in technocratic and economic terms, leaving spatial planning and redistribution implicit. By revealing these spatial and political dimensions, the research contributes to a broader debate about the role of energy distribution in a more sustainable and democratic energy system.
energy distribution, implicit planning, socio-spatial redistribution, dispersed urbanisation