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Research Integrated Research on Energy, Environment and Society | IREES News

From kilowatts to cents: Financial inclusion of citizens through Dutch community energy business model configurations

22 November 2023

Community energy initiatives (CEIs) emphasize citizen empowerment, equitable distribution of energy transition costs and benefits, and the importance of local knowledge. While CEI goals align with energy justice principles, they have been criticized for not fully incorporating distributive justice, particularly the distribution of the benefits of a sustainable energy transition. Therefore, they may potentially perpetuate income inequalities. There are insufficient studies to conclusively determine whether CEIs perpetuate or address income inequalities. Moreover, the integration of transition studies, energy justice and business model literature is lacking, hindering effective analysis of CEI configurations that address income inequalities. This paper aims to connect the sustainability, energy justice and business model literature by dissecting the business model configurations of CEIs and assessing the inclusiveness of these components. To do so, we develop and employ an adapted business model canvas that incorporates societal and environmental considerations in the value proposition, value creation and delivery and value capture. The canvas is used to determine whether sustainability and energy justice considerations, particularly distributive justice principles, are embedded in the CEI business models. The research is focused on the Netherlands, a country with a high number of CEIs. However, the study may yield insights relevant to other countries and CEIs, informing the integration of principles for societal inclusion in their own contexts. We utilize a mixed-method approach, including interviews, desk research and surveys, to ensure robust analysis through data triangulation. The study finds that there are elements of CEI business model configurations that are aligned with energy justice principles. However, models specifically targeting and aligning with minimum income social groups are rare.

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Last modified:27 February 2024 11.14 a.m.

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