Investigating mechanisms of collective action initiatives’ development in the energy sector. Report on the comparative case studies, COMETS H2020 project

One of the emergent trends in the sustainable energy transition is the development of distributed power generation. In Europe, it is estimated that up half of citizens of the European Union (EU) could be energy self-sufficient, potentially supplying 45% of Europe’s final energy demand by 2050 (Kampman, et al., 2016). While there are many challenges with a move towards more distributed, citizen-led energy projects, they are nevertheless supported and promoted by the EU in the RED II (EU Renewable Energy Directive as part of the 2016 “Clean Energy of all Europeans” initiative, directive 2018/2001/EU), which secures the right for citizens and communities to produce, store, consume and sell renewable energy, and other rights such as consumer’s protection or access to all energy markets directly or through third parties. Socially, this often takes the form of community energy projects in the form of collective action initiatives (CAI). CAIs, which include energy cooperatives, prosumer networks, and other citizen-led energy projects, are examples of social innovation (Gregg, et al., 2020) in how they organize and gain power through a social movement mechanism. Social innovation is the development of activities and services to meet a social need, and social innovations are primarily social in both their ends and their means. Among other things, energy CAIs are typically characterized by a focus on the community, open and voluntary participation, democratic governance, and autonomy and independence (ICA, 2021). The social benefits of energy CAIs include: developing local economies, addressing energy poverty, raising awareness about sustainable energy, promoting energy justice, giving a voice to the community, developing local skills and promoting social cohesion. Current research on CAIs explores how they are defined and the different ownership structures (Gorroño-Albizu, 2019), and how they mobilize and attain power (Gregg et al., 2020). Other research traces the history of their development within specific contexts or geographical areas, and how they influence or are influenced by national energy policies (Wierling et al., 2018). Still other research uses the lens of organizational and institutional theory to understand the historical development of energy CAIs (Mey and Diesendorf, 2018).

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Authors:André Vizinho, Ângela Guimarães Pereira, Anna Novaresio, Annika Urbas, Eguzkiñe Saenz de Zaitegui, Erika Meynaerts, Esther van der Waal, Franco Ruzzenenti, Henny van der Windt, Izaskun Jimenez Iturriza, James A Haselip, Jay Sterling Gregg, Lucia Polo-Alvarez, Neeme Kärbo, Nele Ivask, Osman Arrobbio, Pieter Valkering, Sarah Delvaux, Simon Bolwig, Wit Hubert
Published year:2021
Content type:Report
File: Download
Orbit ID:e52e8903-cdd4-4e81-a7d7-5916fcc8b851
Is current:Current
No. of pages:148