Understanding the scaling-up of community energy niches through strategic niche management theory: Insights from Finland

TitleUnderstanding the scaling-up of community energy niches through strategic niche management theory: Insights from Finland
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsRuggiero, S, Martiskainen, M, Onkila, T
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Volume170
Start Page581
Pagination581-590
Date Published01/2017
KeywordsCommunity energy, Niche, Renewable energy, Scaling-up, Strategic niche management
Abstract

The growing phenomenon of civil society involvement in renewable energy generation has attracted researchers’ interest. However, rather little is known of how a diverse and relatively small sector such as community energy could scale up and promote a change in energy production. We examine this issue through the lens of Strategic Niche Management (SNM) and conceptualize community energy as a socio-technical niche that holds the potential to promote a transition to renewable energy. Drawing on interview data with members of community energy projects and experts in Finland, we identify different types of community energy projects and the factors that may prevent them from scaling up. The study contributes a typology of community energy projects by showing which initiatives could be more inclined to be part of a strategy aiming at scaling up the sector. It also shows the tensions of SNM in the context of non-market-driven innovation, highlighting how exogenous factors such as cultural aspects, the specific context in which community energy develops and the characteristics of community groups are also relevant in the scaling-up process.

DOI10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.09.144