The transformation of energy systems is influencing economic policy agendas all over the world, particularly in industrialized countries. In this process, Germany has taken a pioneering role, and hence the technical innovations, legal frameworks, and business models established there are also of interest for other countries trying to achieve broader use of renewable energies.
Throughout the world, community involvement in renewable energy across many scales and varieties of activity is increasingly common, driven by broader processes of technical, social, political and environmental change. Social movements play a fundamental role in this process of change, acting as dynamic sites of action and innovation in thinking and practice.
Energy cooperatives, in which citizens volunteer their time, have become a symbol for a citizen-led energy change. However, new energy cooperatives find it difficult to establish because they are at a disadvantage compared to large suppliers since Renewable Energy Sources Act amendment. New business models are now in demand that help to establish this model on the energy market alongside municipal utilities and private utilities. For example, cooperative members need to build up know-how, create full-time jobs and mobilise risk capital.
Despite unsupportive political conditions for renewable energy (RE) in Australia, a new movement is emerging. About 70 Australian community groups have started to embrace the concept of community renewable energy (CRE) and develop their own projects. However, faced with a complex institutional environment and the absence of national government support, only a few groups have established operating CRE projects as yet. In this situation the role of local government (LG) ‘closest to the people’ deserves more attention.
Degrowth, technology, and democracy in Community Renewable Energy are discussed.
Six hypotheses on the German energy transition are developed.
Convivial technology is not used in Community Renewable Energy in Germany.
Green consumerism might dominate Community Renewable Energy in the future.
At the New South Wales State government's annual Green Globe Awards, the Sustainability Award for Innovative Projects was presented in October 2015 to three citizens' energy projects. In the Climate Change Leadership category, the Tathra Community Solar Farm was awarded the prize. This is a solar park initiated by a local non-profit organisation together with the affected community and financed by donations.