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Sustainability 2017, 9(8), 1325; doi:10.3390/su9081325

Community Energy Companies in the UK: A Potential Model for Sustainable Development in “Local” Energy?

Law School, College of Social Sciences and International Studies, University of Exeter, Amory Building, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4RJ, UK
Received: 30 April 2017 / Revised: 20 July 2017 / Accepted: 25 July 2017 / Published: 29 July 2017
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Abstract

The rise of renewable energy sources (RES) comes with a shift in attention from government and market energy governance to local community initiatives and self-regulation. Although this shift is generally welcome at domestic and EU level, the regulatory dimension, at both levels, is nevertheless not adapted to this multi-actor market since prosumers are not empowered and energy justice is far from achieved. The rise, in the UK, of Community Interest Companies (consumers and local actors’ collectives) in the energy sector provides an interesting perspective as it allows a whole system’s view. Research was conducted with six energy community organizations in the South West of England in order to evaluate their role and identity and assess whether this exemplar of “the rise of a social sphere in regulation” could be used as a model for a more sustainable social approach to the governance of economic relations. Findings illustrate that such organizations undoubtedly play an important role in the renewable energy sector and they also help to alleviate some aspects of “energy injustice”. Yet, the failure to recognize, in terms of energy policy, at domestic and EU level, the importance of such actors undermines their role. The need to embed and support such organizations in policy is necessary if one is to succeed to put justice at the core of the changing energy landscape. View Full-Text
Keywords: energy transition; renewable energy sources; energy poverty; community interest companies; the United Kingdom; social justice; sharing economy; regulation; governance energy transition; renewable energy sources; energy poverty; community interest companies; the United Kingdom; social justice; sharing economy; regulation; governance
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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Saintier, S. Community Energy Companies in the UK: A Potential Model for Sustainable Development in “Local” Energy? Sustainability 2017, 9, 1325.

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