Journal article

Community renewable energy at a crossroads: a think piece on degrowth, technology, and the democratization of the German energy system

19 Nov 2016

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.
Degrowth activists and scholars have questioned society's current levels of material throughput and energy use. The energy sector is at the core of any modern economy, and Germany serves as an international showcase for the transition of a large industrialized economy to a low-carbon energy system. Diverse actors, organizational models, and technologies have contributed to the initiation of Germany's energy transition through a wide range of community renewable energy projects. The think piece investigates how far these diverse actors embrace the aims of the Degrowth movement. It also provides a critical account of on-the-ground realities through six hypotheses and contrasts them with claims made by the Degrowth movement. It is suggested that community renewable energy projects are at a crossroads. While many projects have familiarized thousands of people with alternative economic models, there is little evidence of a general change in attitudes towards technology, consumption, or equity. In conclusion, a major effort is needed to open initiatives to less affluent actors, oppose recent trends of commodification, and prevent community renewable energy projects from being engrossed by the dominant political and economic system.

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1 October 2018
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