How do social innovations in community energy explain energy system change? Social innovations focus attention on the ideational and material capabilities of individuals and communities to assume power in decision-making and implementation. The qualitative case study includes energy projects from Germany, Denmark and Scotland. It compares patterns of resource mobilization and how these correspond to individual innovation biographies of community engagement. The study shows that innovation biographies of community energy develop in distinct ways, and create corresponding alternatives to the energy system. Although similar with regard to the types of resources projects mobilize in response to development stages or challenges, resources themselves are closely tied to innovation biographies. This improves our understanding of the potential of community energy actors for energy system change and deepens the study of power in concepts of social innovation.
Arwen Colell studied political science in Germany (Freie Universität Berlin), Japan and the USA. She is an experienced project manager and team leader working in the energy and electric mobility sector, and a co-founder of the Berlin-based cooperative BürgerEnergie Berlin applying for citizen grid ownership. She is currently a policy analyst with Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, one of Germany's leading climate think tanks.
Arwen's PhD research was supported by a scholarship of the Heinrich Böll Foundation's research cluster "Transformation".