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Special Issue "Energy Transition and Social Innovation"

A special issue of Energies (ISSN 1996-1073). This special issue belongs to the section "I: Energy Economics and Policy".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2021) | Viewed by 7580

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Dario Padovan
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Culture, Politics and Society, UNITO-University of Turin, 10153 Turin, Italy
Interests: climate change; social practices; sustainable consumption; energy transition; energy and work
Dr. Osman Arrobbio
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Culture, Politics and Society, UNITO-University of Turin, 10153 Turin, Italy
Interests: energy behaviors; energy efficiency; energy practices; energy sufficiency; energy transition; rebound effect; socio-technical systems
Dr. Alessandro Sciullo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Culture, Politics and Society, UNITO-University of Turin, 10153 Turin, Italy
Interests: climate change; energy transition; energy behaviors; social practices; social innovation; socio-technical system; complexity policy analysis

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Guest Editors are inviting submissions to a Special Issue of Energies on the subject of “Energy Transition and Social Innovation towards Renewables”. Energy transition towards renewables is the core of any plausible policy to achieve a low-carbon society and thus avoid the dramatic consequences of climate change. Energy Transition is a complex phenomenon, the trajectories and results of which emerge from the interaction between many technical, institutional, and socio-cultural processes. This publication will focus on the latter and will accept contributions that mainly focus on social innovation processes that have been playing an increasing role in triggering, implementing, and hindering the energy transition in recent years. Among other forms of social innovation, particular attention is devoted to exploring the dynamics and the effects of initiatives inspired by a collective action approach. These initiatives in fact seem to have a great potential in supporting the diffusion of more sustainable models of energy production and consumption and in maximizing the connected environmental and social benefits.

Topics of interest for publication include, but are not limited to:

  • Interest, motivation, and value in energy transition;
  • Energy transition and new social ontology;
  • Energy as commons and shared property;
  • Social innovation in the frame of energy technical apparatuses;
  • The agentic actors of social innovation in the energy field;
  • Collective action for energy transition;
    • Social innovation as a collective action endeavor;
    • Historical and spatial comparative analysis of energy cooperatives;
    • Institutional logics and energy communities;
    • Collective action and social practices for energy prosumption;
    • Collective action as resource mobilization for energy transition;
    • The role of cooperation to foster energy democracy;
    • The role of social innovation in overtaking energy poverty;
    • Energy transition and social inequalities: the stratified world of energy communities.

Prof. Dr. Dario Padovan
Dr. Osman Arrobbio
Dr. Alessandro Sciullo
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Energies is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • energy
  • collective action
  • energy transition
  • renewable energy
  • energy practices
  • resources
  • innovation
  • energy poverty
  • energy democracy

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Collective Action Initiatives as a Tool for a Peaceful Energy Transition
Energies 2022, 15(7), 2696; https://doi.org/10.3390/en15072696 - 06 Apr 2022
Viewed by 323
Abstract
In recent years, collective action initiatives in the energy field, such as energy communities and cooperatives, have been gaining relevance both in the policy and in the social research domains as primary actors of energy transition. [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Transition and Social Innovation)

Research

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Article
Exploring Institutional and Socio-Economic Settings for the Development of Energy Communities in Europe
Energies 2022, 15(4), 1597; https://doi.org/10.3390/en15041597 - 21 Feb 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 678
Abstract
Energy communities (ECs), intended as collective action initiatives in the energy field involving citizens’ participation, have been gaining relevance for the past decades as an alternative way to organize the energy chain to challenge the incumbent system. With Europe’s recently adopted Clean Energy [...] Read more.
Energy communities (ECs), intended as collective action initiatives in the energy field involving citizens’ participation, have been gaining relevance for the past decades as an alternative way to organize the energy chain to challenge the incumbent system. With Europe’s recently adopted Clean Energy Package, ECs found a formal recognition by the European Union as potential actors of the transition of the energy system towards a wider and more decentralized use of renewable sources. Although the potential role of ECs in the transition is therefore hardly questionable, a thorough comprehension of the enabling factors that might foster their diffusion and scaling up is still lacking. Through a comparative analysis of the evolutionary trajectories in six EU countries regarding their energy systems, their regulatory frameworks and their historical evolution of ECs, namely through the example of cooperative models, this paper aims at providing some preliminary evidence about the factors and dynamics that seem to have played, and may play, a role in hampering or facilitating EC model diffusion. Attention is therefore specifically paid to three dimensions of analysis referring to: the energy mix and market structure; the institutional and policy landscape; the wider social attitudes towards environmental issues and cooperation among citizens. In addition to providing a wide comparison of different EU countries, the paper shows that the historical evolution pathways have to be carefully taken into account to understand what might trigger ECs exploitation in the EU. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Transition and Social Innovation)
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Article
A Characterization of European Collective Action Initiatives and Their Role as Enablers of Citizens’ Participation in the Energy Transition
Energies 2021, 14(24), 8452; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14248452 - 14 Dec 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 953
Abstract
This paper provides novel additional evidence on the characteristics of Collective Action Initiatives (CAIs), investigating their role within the European energy sector. It analyses and presents results of a survey administered in six European countries: the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Poland, Estonia, and Spain. [...] Read more.
This paper provides novel additional evidence on the characteristics of Collective Action Initiatives (CAIs), investigating their role within the European energy sector. It analyses and presents results of a survey administered in six European countries: the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Poland, Estonia, and Spain. CAIs are studied in light of four key dimensions, those being their creation dynamics, the way they are organized, financed, and the activities they undertake. The results presented are also interpreted to reflect on their role as drivers of social innovation (SI) within energy transition in Europe. The analysis shows that the contribution of CAIs to the energy transition has a much wider scope than the development of energy projects and provision of energy services. CAIs are intrinsically socially innovative models of implementation as characterised by a strong level of citizen involvement and participation. Moreover, they have a potential multi-level role in the energy transition, from the technological and social perspectives. Indeed, alongside traditional energy activities, our results show that CAIs are evolving and expanding towards socially innovative activities, raising awareness on environmental issues, promoting citizens’ mobilization, and fostering social inclusion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Transition and Social Innovation)
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Article
Community Cooperative: A New Legal Form for Enhancing Social Capital for the Development of Renewable Energy Communities in Italy
Energies 2021, 14(21), 7029; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14217029 - 27 Oct 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 646
Abstract
This paper investigates the suitability of the community cooperatives (CC) model for the implementation of renewable energy communities (REC), as prescribed by art. 22 of EU Directive 2018/2001, and temporarily transposed into the Italian law by art. 42-bis of the Law Decree n. [...] Read more.
This paper investigates the suitability of the community cooperatives (CC) model for the implementation of renewable energy communities (REC), as prescribed by art. 22 of EU Directive 2018/2001, and temporarily transposed into the Italian law by art. 42-bis of the Law Decree n. 162/2019. The hypothesis explored analyses the potential synergies between RECs and CC, based on their similarities. In particular, the article takes into consideration: the actors involved in both the RECs and the CCs; the geographical scope in which they develop, and the purposes that these two legal forms intended to achieve. Through a literature review and the analysis of EU, national and regional legislations, the paper aims at (1) clarifying the main features of RECs and the CCs in Italy; (2) exploring the main differences between CCs and the other legal forms of cooperative (e.g., mutual cooperative, cooperative benefit, etc.) and assessing the extent to which CCs are more suitable to implement renewable energy communities. As a result of the literature and regulatory review, several similarities between CCs and RECs can be detected, particularly, in reference to the strategic valorization of the cooperation between citizens and the local public entities. These similarities allow the authors to provisionally conclude that, in Italy, CCs may be adopted as a tool to implement RECs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Transition and Social Innovation)
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Article
Building a Common Support Framework in Differing Realities—Conditions for Renewable Energy Communities in Germany and Bulgaria
Energies 2021, 14(15), 4693; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14154693 - 02 Aug 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 885
Abstract
The revised EU Renewable Energy Directive first introduced renewable energy communities into the EU policy framework and requires Member States to implement a support framework for them. Given the broad scientific evidence showing the benefits of community energy for a just energy transition, [...] Read more.
The revised EU Renewable Energy Directive first introduced renewable energy communities into the EU policy framework and requires Member States to implement a support framework for them. Given the broad scientific evidence showing the benefits of community energy for a just energy transition, a successful implementation across all Member States is essential. However, the preconditions for developing support frameworks differ largely between EU nations, as some countries have long-term experiences with supporting renewable energy communities (i.e., Germany and Denmark), while in other Member States, renewable energy communities are notably non-existent (i.e., Eastern European nations). With the purpose of providing scientific evidence to support the development of a policy framework for renewable energy communities in Eastern European Member States, this article compares key factors for the development of such communities in Bulgaria and Germany, combining a literature review with expert interviews to collect primary information on Bulgaria. A country analysis puts these factors into the contexts of both countries, while a cross-country comparison demonstrates that there are significant gaps in the support framework of Bulgaria, although these gaps are, to a lesser extent, also present in Germany. We discuss these shortcomings, derive policy recommendations and identify further research needs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Transition and Social Innovation)
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Article
Facilitating Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue and Collaboration in the Energy Transition of Municipalities through Serious Gaming
Energies 2021, 14(12), 3374; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14123374 - 08 Jun 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 718
Abstract
Within the EU, energy transition at the local level is embedded in a complex stakeholder network with highly interdependent actors; if these actors have to collaborate to contribute to an efficient transition, they have to initiate a dialogue about their roles and interests. [...] Read more.
Within the EU, energy transition at the local level is embedded in a complex stakeholder network with highly interdependent actors; if these actors have to collaborate to contribute to an efficient transition, they have to initiate a dialogue about their roles and interests. A good way to achieve this goal could be via serious gaming. Scholars suggest that serious games have the potential to increase multi-stakeholder’s dialogue and collaboration on climate-change-related issues; however, empirical evidence on the effectiveness, and the process is still limited. The aim of this paper is to use the We-Energy Game as a case study to provide empirical evidence on how serious gaming could facilitate dialogue and collaboration among different stakeholders, and which specific features influence the engagement of participants with the issue. For that purpose, a qualitative analysis on feedback and observations of group discussions is conducted, together with a survey for 125 stakeholders from diverse municipalities in The Netherlands to assess what type of features influence the engagement. The study reveals that the game engages participants mostly at the cognitive level, and that key elements in this process are game design, the debriefing session, and the role of the facilitator. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Transition and Social Innovation)
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Article
Energy Transition in Poland—Assessment of the Renewable Energy Sector
by , , and
Energies 2021, 14(8), 2046; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14082046 - 07 Apr 2021
Cited by 35 | Viewed by 1650
Abstract
The topic of the article considers the functioning of the renewable energy (RE) sector in Poland. This is really important in the context of the energy transition of the national economy because it influences the creation of modern technologies and increases the competitiveness [...] Read more.
The topic of the article considers the functioning of the renewable energy (RE) sector in Poland. This is really important in the context of the energy transition of the national economy because it influences the creation of modern technologies and increases the competitiveness and innovation of the country. Poland is in a process of energy transition where the RE sector has been developing for two decades. The authors aimed to research the RE sector improvement possibilities in Poland, including the influence of this sector on chosen social and economic aspects. Because of this research’s aim a critical situation assessment of RE in Poland was conducted and a survey of a group of experts in this field was also involved. Legal, physical and mental determinants and their influence on RE sector were looked into. In the legal determinant context a necessity to simplify relevant legislation acts in Poland was found. Undoubtedly there is a need to improve several legal acts, including the Distance Act. In physical determinants it was found that solar, wind and biomass energy have the biggest chances for development. In the case of mental determinants the authors paid attention to the need of educating the public about using and obtaining energy. It is also important to make people aware how the RE sector influences the low emission economy positively. This will improve the creation of new jobs and reduce the emissions of harmful substances to the environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Transition and Social Innovation)
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Article
Triggering Local Innovation Processes for the Implementation of Sector Coupling Projects: An Integrated Approach
Energies 2021, 14(5), 1358; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14051358 - 02 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 763
Abstract
Local implementation projects for sector coupling play an important role in the transformation to a more sustainable energy system. Despite various technical possibilities, there are various barriers to the realisation of local projects. Against this backdrop, we introduce an inter- and transdisciplinary approach [...] Read more.
Local implementation projects for sector coupling play an important role in the transformation to a more sustainable energy system. Despite various technical possibilities, there are various barriers to the realisation of local projects. Against this backdrop, we introduce an inter- and transdisciplinary approach to identifying and evaluating different power-to-X paths as well as setting up robust local implementation projects, which account for existing drivers and potential hurdles early on. After developing the approach conceptually, we exemplify our elaborations by applying them to a use case in the German city of Wuppertal. It can be shown that a mix of several interlinked interdisciplinary methods as well as several participatory elements is suitable for triggering a collective, local innovation process. However, the timing and extent of end-user integration remain a balancing act. The paper does not focus on a detailed description of power-to-X (PtX) as a central pillar of the sustainable transformation of the energy system. Rather, it focuses on the innovative methodological approach used to select a suitable use path and design a corresponding business model. The research approach was successfully implemented in the specific case study. However, it also becomes clear that the local-specific consideration entails limitations with regard to the transferability of the research design to other spatial contexts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Transition and Social Innovation)
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