Renewable energy communities between theories, practices and new regulations

Track 4 – Special session

Friday, 22nd July 2022 from 9:00 to 11:00 | Seminar room 2

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Organisers: Natalia Magnani (University of Trento), Giovanni Carrosio (University of Trieste)

Keywords: Energy transition, Community, Socio-technical Innovation

Potential journal publication: Please check this page for updates


Recently increasing attention has been given by the social sciences to the role of civil society in the promotion of energy pathways alternative to the dominant traditional ones. Renewable energy community (REC) projects are the most interesting forms of grassroots socio-technical innovation in the energy transition. The topicality of REC for the debate on the energy transition concerns both the empirical and the theoretical levels.

On the first level, while in Northern European countries forms of REC have existed since the 1970s, and in Southern Europe have mostly emerged at the beginning of 2000s as result of generous incentives, recently a new wave of projects has been stimulated by the passing of the European Directive 2018/2001 and by its transposition into national laws. At the same time regions are also passing innovative regulations introducing additional rewards for those RECs that address social issues like energy poverty or economic issues like local development especially in rural deprived areas.

Moreover, REC represents an emerging research field where descriptive accounts prevail, while the theoretical references are still quite limited. In particular, some studies have analysed REC as a form of social enterprise involved in creating and mobilising non-market resources like social capital. Others analysed the dynamics underlying the affirmation of RECs by resorting to the social movements literature. Beyond this rather limited literature there is a lack of theoretically-informed approaches to understand this empirical field.

On this background we welcome contributions on the followings:

  • Studies investigating the transposition of directive 2018/2001 into different national/regional contexts and the way new RECs are different from previous forms of community energy
  • Studies highlighting the different governance and financial models adopted by CRE and the impact they have on energy democracy and sustainability
  • Studies highlighting the way in which RECs provide environmental, economic or social benefits for members or for local communities, with a special focus on tackling energy poverty
  • Studies analysing how energy communities fit into national energy transition contexts and what interactions exist between public and private organisations
  • Theoretical approaches to the study of RECs, with a particular attention to the meaning of ‘community’ and to the ways communities are created around renewable energy production


  • 632 Bolognesi, Monica – Energy community: the opportunity of an energy transition characterized by a return to the territory
  • 521 Coleandro, Giada Filippa Paola and Ruggeri, Beatrice – To energy communities and beyond: rethinking energy systems through a mutual aid approach
  • 525 Cittati, Valentina-Miriam – Combining the Multilevel Perspective and Socio-Technical Imaginaries in the Study of Community Energy
  • 558 Pezzutto, Simon – Mapping and Analysis of Energy Communities in Europe
  • 604 De Vidovich, Lorenzo and Zulinello Matteo – How can we frame energy communities’ organizational models? Insights from the research Community Energy Map in the Italian context
  • 637 Scotti, Ivano – Socio-environmental innovation: the energy community of San Giovanni a Teduccio, Naples.

Download all abstracts of Track4