Energy cooperatives and local ownership in the field of renewable energy technologies as social innovation processes in the energy system
The project investigated how actor roles, resources, and strategies as well as institutional frameworks relevant to energy cooperatives and similar forms of local ownership in the area of renewable energy technologies have developed over the last years.
Science Fund of the Austrian Central Bank (OeNB)
Forschungsinstitut für Kooperationen und Genossenschaften (RiCC) der Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien
With rising concerns over ecological sustainability as well as security of supply, the energy system has over the last years come under increasing pressure and various efforts have been made aiming at a transformation towards more sustainable systems of energy provision. At the grassroots level this has included the establishment of energy cooperatives and other forms of local or community based ownership of renewable energy technologies. These initiatives and organisations can be viewed as a social innovation introducing new forms of socio-economic organisation of energy provision and also enabling a specific kind of governance process in the energy sector – in many cases channelling the interests of ‘green’ consumers and thereby attempting to contribute to a transformation process in the energy system.
The project at hand investigated how actor roles, resources, and strategies as well as institutional frameworks relevant to energy cooperatives and similar forms of local ownership in the area of renewable energy technologies have developed over the last years. The main focus was on activities in Austria and Germany, though the project will also include a literature-based comparison to other European countries. By thus examining development processes in different countries and looking at ways in which these activities relate to the mainstream regime of energy provision, the project aimed to critically assess the potential of energy cooperatives and local ownership of renewable energy technologies to contribute to a shift to more sustainable systems of energy provision. Furthermore an outlook on future development potentials in the area of energy cooperatives in Austria and Germany were provided.