The concept of energy democracy and its applications

Track 4 – Special session

Thursday, 21st July 2022 from 16:30 to 18:00 | Seminar room 3

Photo credits:

Organisers: Jessica Balest (Eurac Research), Federico Voltolini (Eurac Research), Valentina Miriam Cittati (Eurac Research)

Keywords: Energy democracy, Energy transition, Participatory democracy, Deliberative democracy

Potential journal publication: Please check this page for updates


The European Union aims at delivering a just transition to a climate-neutral, resource-efficient, fair, and resilient society and economy. This type of transition is based on advanced climate science and suggests pathways and responses to climate change. There is the need to promote (green, digital, and inclusive) transformation pathways for climate and energy transitions in a transparent, effective, and equitable way.

This transition is bringing the concept of energy democracy (van Veelen and van der Horst 2018) to the forefront with e.g., the diffusion of energy communities or the growing youth climate movements. Energy democracy is a recent growing phenomenon that urgently needs to be unpacked and redefined through careful reflection (Chilvers and Pallett, 2018; Szulecki and Overland, 2020), for becoming a stronger and robust concept.
Although this concept is characterized by a core of sharing meanings (e.g., a just energy system, participation of civic society, transparency), different disciplines interpret it according to their interests and perspectives. The main challenge is to understand how to apply democratic theories to the energy field. In this regard, the effort of the scientific community is focused on how democratic institutions and (representative, deliberative, and participative) practices support and model a just energy transition.

The session will provide theoretical and applied research on democratic experiences for the energy transition, also based to the numerous ongoing EU projects. The goal of the session is to contribute to understanding the connection between representative institutions and deliberative experiences, expanding political participation, social dialogue and social inclusion, civic engagement, and gender equality within the energy transition. This session aims to create a scientific debate linked to applied research on the energy democracy concept. The need to define a robust and shared concept is preventing it from becoming a fashionable term and promoting a real contribution to a just energy transition.


  • 610 Scharnigg, Renee – Governance promoting democracy in energy transitions: Implications of cultural and gender aspects of energy production in a financially constrained context
  • 660 Hansen, Lillian – Conditions for localized whole-systems change: linking community energy generation and use
  • 560 Castillo-Calzadilla, Tony – Co-generation of Bilbao ATELIER Data Commons: a democratic and sustainable approach in Zorrotzaurre.

Download all abstracts of Track4