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Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1900-1931; doi:10.3390/su7021900

Local Governments Supporting Local Energy Initiatives: Lessons from the Best Practices of Saerbeck (Germany) and Lochem (The Netherlands)

1
Department of Technology and Governance for Sustainability (CSTM), Institute for Innovation and Governance Studies (IGS), Faculty of Behavioral, Management and Social Studies (BMS), University of Twente, P.O. Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands
2
Institute for Political Science, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Scharnhorststrasse 100, 48151 Münster, Germany
3
University Campus Fryslân (UCF), Sophialaan 1, 8911 AE Leeuwarden, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Tan Yigitcanlar
Received: 22 December 2014 / Accepted: 3 February 2015 / Published: 11 February 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Development)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [794 KB, uploaded 24 February 2015]

Abstract

The social dimension of the transition to a low carbon economy is a key challenge to cities. The establishment of local energy initiatives (LEIs) has recently been attracting attention. It is of great importance to draw lessons from best practices when LEIs have been facilitated by local governments and made a substantial contribution to greening local energy systems. The main research questions in this paper are: What lessons can be drawn from successful local low carbon energy transition cases, and which strategies proved successful to support LEIs? We have used analytical notions from the Strategic Niche Management (SNM) and grassroots innovation literature to analyze two best-practice cases: Saerbeck (Germany) and Lochem (The Netherlands). Data collection involved a set of fourteen in-depth interviews and secondary data. The results show that three key factors from SNM (building networks, managing expectations, and facilitation of learning) are of great importance. However, to a great degree it is also strategic, community serving, responsive, reflexive leadership and proper process management by public officials that spurred success, which would not have been possible without close interaction and mutual trust between local government and representatives of the local communities. View Full-Text
Keywords: energy transition; civil society; local energy initiatives; low carbon; strategic niche management; leadership; governance; local capacity; grassroots innovation energy transition; civil society; local energy initiatives; low carbon; strategic niche management; leadership; governance; local capacity; grassroots innovation
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Hoppe, T.; Graf, A.; Warbroek, B.; Lammers, I.; Lepping, I. Local Governments Supporting Local Energy Initiatives: Lessons from the Best Practices of Saerbeck (Germany) and Lochem (The Netherlands). Sustainability 2015, 7, 1900-1931.

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