Energy democracy in Europe

Conrad Kunze and Sören Becker, June 2014

A survey and outlook

Already today, the energy transition in Europe is supplanting nuclear and coal power plants and will, at some point, be able to completely replace them. As Hermann Sheer incessantly emphasizes, this transition could also have positive social and political side effects.

This study offers a general and easy-to-understand overview of vanguard energy democracy projects within the EU. We looked for nascent energy projects characterised by their combination of an energy transition approach with gains in participation, collective ownership, or for local business or ecology in general. Through these twelve select examples, we take a look into this great laboratory of small alternative projects and venture an outlook on future developments and opportunities in the coming years.

Not only are renewable energy sources an appropriate means of combatting climate change, if implemented correctly they could also gradually become part of a wider social change.

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Conrad Kunze is a sociologist and historian. During the last five years, he has taught, written about and researched various ecology-related questions. Currently he works at the Institute for Environmental Governance at the University of Freiburg. In 2012 he founded the Büro für eine demokratische Energiewende in Berlin and is a volunteer for the Lausitz Climate and Energy Camp.

Sören Becker is a geographer and political scientist at the Leibniz Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning in Erkner. He studies new organisational forms, social movements and the shifting spatial structures in the course of the energy transition.