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PhD ceremony: Local energy innovators. Collective experimentation for energy transition | Esther van der Waal

When:Fr 26-03-2021 at 14:30
Where:Academy building and live stream


PhD ceremony: E.C. (Esther) van der Waal, MSc
When: March 26, 2021
Start: 14:30
Supervisors: dr. H.J. (Henny J) van der Windt, prof. M.A. (Rien) Herber
Co-supervisors: dr. E.C.J. Oost, dr. J.A. (Anne) Beaulieu
Where: Academy building RUG
Faculty: Science and Engineering
Research Institute: Energy and Sustainability Research Institute Groningen (ESRIG)
Research Group: Integrated Research on Energy, Environment and Society


Citizens are increasingly taking control of their energy provision and form energy collectives such as Grunneger Power or BrummenEnergie. At times, they leave the beaten legal, social and technical paths and find innovative solutions. This dissertation investigates the value of these innovations for the Dutch energy transition and makes recommendations to enhance the activities of innovating citizen collectives.

Central to the investigated collective innovation processes are both the social and the material aspect of innovation, because the focus is on the interaction between the collectives and the energy system. The third aspect I focused on is regulation, because it delimits the institutional space for innovation and thus largely determines the playing field within which innovations are developed and must function. I looked at the mutual dynamics of these three aspects within the current cooperative movement, but also at the time of electrification. Even then, the Netherlands already had energy cooperatives.

The main conclusions from this research are three roles that energy collectives can play in the development and embedding of energy innovations: 1) making new technologies more widely accessible, 2) creating locally and supra locally applicable learning experiences, and 3) acting as a local antenna that picks up context-related opportunities and values. The most feasible and most successful turned out to be characterized by sufficiently supportive policy, cooperation with actors with similar or complementary interests, proper assessment of what could be done by the initiative itself and what could better be outsourced.

Dissertation: TBA.

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