Scientific approaches of community energy, a literature review

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In several European countries, an increasing part of the production of renewable
energy is generated by citizen-owned production units. These units are installed
and managed individually or by local communities, and the number of local
energy initiatives, who aim to increase local energy production, is rising
rapidly. This has resulted in a new research area we label as community energy.
Community energy is defined as local production of renewable energy, governed
by citizens, with a view to contribute to the transition to a sustainable energy
system. In this study, the authors use community energy to encompass several
terms that have been used so far in the literature, such as citizen’s power,
grassroots energy, and local governance of energy production. They specifically
address the role of the individual, acting as consumer, prosumer or citizen.
The aim of the study is to identify the key issues and concepts covered in the
community energy literature so far and to reflect on how it is being studied.
It shows community energy is studied from a variety of perspectives, delivering
insights that range from individual motivations of members to join these
groups, the organisation of local community initiatives, their relations with local
governments, regional support organisations and networks, to national policies
that aim to stimulate decentralized community owned energy production. All
approaches will have to specify and develop in order to understand and explain
community energy in more detail. In addition, there is room to further reflect on
the agency that is employed by local communities and how bottom-up changes
in the energy structure occur. The authors argue that the study and practice of
community energy could benefit from a transdisciplinary research approach,
which integrates perspectives of multiple academic disciplines and non-academic
stakeholders. Moreover, this could lead to policy development that is science-based and practice oriented.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationGroningen
PublisherCentre for Energy Economics Research (CEER)
Number of pages106
ISBN (Electronic)9789403416564
ISBN (Print)9789403416571
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2019

Publication series

NameCEER Policy Papers
PublisherUniversity of Groningen


  • Community energy
  • Renewable energy
  • Local energy
  • Energy transition
  • Distributed generation
  • Literature review


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