Social Innovation for Energy Transition: Activation of Community Entrepreneurship in Inner Areas of Southern Italy
Sustainable Development Goal no. 7 of the UN 2030 Agenda refers to changing the route of energy production and consumption to contrast climate change. One way to reach this objective is to foster the development of the renewable energy sector by promoting community entrepreneurship in rural and remote areas endowed with relevant environmental resources and containing important cultural assets. The European Union (EU) legislative framework already formally acknowledges and defines specific types of community energy initiatives that can reinforce positive social norms and support the energy transition. However, there are some concerns regarding the economic feasibility and sustainability of these initiatives in difficult contexts, such as the case of inner areas of Southern Italy, which are affected by progressive abandonment and desertification, and where the recent widespread implementation of large-scale renewable energy plants has occurred without the engagement of the local community. This has led to limited social acceptance of new investment projects in renewable energy. In light of these premises, the aim of this chapter is to propose an operational approach for developing community entrepreneurship where the renewable energy sector will provide the financial flow needed to activate initiatives for the valorization of cultural assets, tourism initiatives and civic revitalization. In this way, the energy transition may represent a unique opportunity to spur economic growth in less developed regions across the EU, capable of exerting a multiplier effect on local development and the social revitalization of local communities.