The governance role of local renewable energy cooperatives (LRECs) in facilitating the energy transition remains under-scrutinized in the scholarly literature. Such a gap is puzzling, since LRECs are a manifestation of the current decentralization movement and yield a promising governance contribution to a ‘just energy transition.’ This paper presents a study of the governance roles of LRECs in the province of Limburg, the Netherlands. Building on existing work on the cooperative movement and energy governance, we, first, develop a conceptual framework for our analysis. The framework is built around three key interactions shaping these governance roles, between (1) LRECs and their (potential) members, (2) LRECs and the government and (3) LRECs with other LRECs. The results of an online survey and qualitative interviews with selected cooperatives led to the identification of five key governance roles that these cooperatives take up in the facilitation of the energy transition: (1) mobilizing the public, (2) brokering between government and citizens, (3) providing context specific knowledge and expertise, (4) initiating accepted change and (5) proffering the integration of sustainability. The paper concludes by reflecting on the relevance of our findings in this Dutch case for the broader ‘just transition’ movement.
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