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Research Integrated Research on Energy, Environment and Society | IREES Research Local Energy Communities: Responsible Innovation Towards Sustainable Energy (CO-RISE)

Community Innovation for Sustainable Energy

Aligning technological and societal innovations

PhD student: Esther van der Waal

Prof. M.A. Herber , Geo-Energy, University of Groningen
Dr. H.J. van der Windt , Science and Society Group, University of Groningen

Summary of PhD project

My PhD project is part of the MVI project ‘Community Innovation for Sustainable Energy. Aligning technological and societal innovations’ that is funded by NWO. Besides Groningen University, also the TU Twente, the Hanzehogeschool Groningen, and some private enterprises participate in this project. Within this project my role is to study the practices of the Dutch energy cooperatives, and evaluate these initiatives in terms of their actual and potential role in the transition towards a more sustainable energy system. As a result of the cooperation with Dr. Ten and Ecovat, smart grids and storage systems will be focused on in particular.  

Leading research questions are:

  • What kinds of technologies do these cooperatives choose? How does their involvement affect these technologies?
  • How are cooperatives related to surrounding structures and processes of the existing energy regimes?
  • What can be learned from contemporary Dutch innovative collectives in relation to the past and to collectives in other European settings?

This project is built along three sub-themes.

P art 1 studies the role and potential of Dutch collectives in the management of common goods in the past, taking the work of Hess & Ostrom and the De Moor on commons and collectives as starting point.

Part 2 uses the Multi-Level Perspective and Strategic Niche Management as an additional theoretical framework. The aim is to study the way in which Danish, British, Austrian and German energy collectives are framed in terms of identity and values, social organization and dominant practices and technologies. How did these collectives connect their values regarding sustainability, ownership, responsibility and local experiences to higher level developments in the energy sector?

Part 3 compares the Dutch situation with the aforementioned four European countries.  How do the new systems evolve and stabilize? What conditions can be identified?

My aim is to increase insight in the potential of community energy, helping to bridge the worlds of communities with an interest in energy sustainability and technology developers. Furthermore, I hope that my research will result in knowledge that can make a little contribution to the huge systems challenge of energy transition the Netherlands is facing today.

Westmill Solar Cooperative
Westmill Solar Cooperative

This project has received funding from The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). NWO-MVI 2016 [313-99-304].
Last modified:05 June 2024 3.58 p.m.