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The Infrastructured State

Territoriality and the National Infrastructure System

Colin Turner

At the core of the logic of this book is that states engage in infrastructuring as a means of securing and enhancing their territoriality. By positioning infrastructure as a system, there is a presumption that all infrastructures exhibit some degree of mutual dependence. As such, a National Infrastructure System (NIS) is not simply about conventional conceptions of infrastructure based on those that support economic activity (i.e. energy, transport and information) but also about broader hard and soft structures that both enable and are supported by the aforementioned economic infrastructures. Consequently, this book offers an ambitious holistic view on the form of NIS arguing that the infrastructural mandate requires a conception of the state that encapsulates themes from both the competition and the welfare states in infrastructure provision.
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Chapter 4: National energy infrastructure

Colin Turner


The national energy infrastructure (NEI) system comprises those facilities that enable the production, distribution, consumption, and (where appropriate) reception and storage of energy (both primary and secondary) within a state. As these latter facets suggest, NEIs are commonly integrated into a global system of energy production, transmission and consumption. As such, the notion of the NEI as an isolated island of energy/power based on the self-generation of domestic energy supply is largely illusory. NEIs are formed and shaped by the context offered by the global system into which NEIs are integrated or – at the very least – interconnected (Platt, 1991; Nye 1998). These interactions do not merely include flows of energy (mainly primary but also increasingly secondary) but also the flows of finance, labour and materials that are integral to the operation of the system (Bridge et al. 2018). Despite the embedded globality of the NEI being a core facet of such domestic energy systems, energy infrastructure remains a national issue as no state wants to risk the domestic political, economic and social consequences of the failure or inadequacy of the energy supply (Bridge et al. 2018). Consequently, the development and evolution of NEIs encapsulates multiple themes linked to state territoriality. For reasons of brevity, this chapter will focus on three themes: energy security, poverty and sustainability. These reflect the ability of the state to secure sufficient supplies of energy to enable its effective operation and development and that these flows have universal accessibility.

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