Diana Süsser, Martin Döring, Beate M.W. Ratter (2016): Harvesting energy: Place and local entrepreneurship in community-based renewable energy transition. Journal of Energy Policy, DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2016.10.018
Transition towards a renewable energy supply initiates a physical (re)shaping of places and a social transformation of communities into renewable energy communities. Although socio-cultural challenges of energy transition have been recognised (27, 37 and 57), understandings about socio-geographic places of energy transition and their underlying social processes and structures are insufficiently studied and often remain underestimated. To close this gap, we theoretically and empirically analysed the multifaceted interplay between place, local entrepreneurship and ‘community renewable energy’. Our study is based on an analysis of regional documents and policy reports, and on qualitative interviews undertaken with inhabitants in the case-study municipality of Reußenköge (Germany). Our findings reveal two important aspects: Firstly, people’s individual and shared place meanings which materialised in social, physical, historical and climate-related place-attachments and meanings of contested and innovative place are important ingredients bearing an impact on processes of adopting or rejecting renewables. Secondly, differentiated characteristics of entrepreneurs, namely grounded, collaborative, innovative, change-making, economic, communicating, networking and political aspects, appeared to be relevant for the acceptance and support in community-based renewable energy projects. Our findings reveal that energy policies, funding schemes and administrative structures should recognise local socio-geographic important elements in the context of a sustained and decentralised energy transition.