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dr. E.C. (Esther) van der Waal

Postdoctoral researcher
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Esther van der Waal is a postdoctoral researcher based at the University of Groningen. She has a background in spatial sciences as well as science and technology studies.

She pursued her PhD at the Integrated Research on Energy, Environment and Society Group at the University of Groningen. This work focuses on the transformative potential of local energy initiatives as innovators in the energy transition.

Her research interests include local energy initiatives, socio-technical innovation, social impact analysis, social studies of energy sustainability, local embedding of technology, energy policy, and interactive and participative planning as well as governance.

She currently works on the EU Horizon 2020 project COMETS, COllective action Models for Energy Transition and Social innovation, and the CREDS project on Social entrepreneurship at the grid edge. Both projects focus on bottom-up, community-led energy innovations.

COMETS (text from project website):

There are large knowledge gaps around the governance of the low carbon energy system transition in a smooth and participative way, ensuring that citizens are at the centre of the required fundamental transformation and enabling the full efflorescence of their creative potential.

Social innovation is a prime way to tap into that potential while Collective Action Initiatives (CAIs), a social innovation in itself, are a prime way to mobilize people and to ensure the acceptance for and participation in the necessary transition process. However, both social innovation and CAIs lack proper scientific and field-tested understanding of their development and factors for success.
COMETS is filling the knowledge gaps around citizen engagement in the energy transition to renewable sources by investigating and quantifying the aggregate contribution of Collective Action Initiatives (CAIs) in the energy sector at both national and European levels.

CREDS project (text from project website): 

Demand-side response and collective self-consumption can match local demand-to-supply, opening up opportunities for more distributed renewable electricity generation. Drawing on place-based entrepreneurship theory and critical infrastructure studies, this project provides an evidence base of how community groups are responding to such opportunities appearing ‘at the grid edge’. We compare two national contexts: the Netherlands where there is regulatory support for community-led innovation, and the UK where there is less support. We then work with diverse community groups in Newham to co-design collective self-consumption projects that contribute to Newham’s climate strategy and generate local value.


Last modified:24 March 2023 07.45 a.m.