Renewable Energy Cooperatives: A Review of Demonstrated Impacts and Limitations

Issues: Volume 4, Issue 1
Authors: Mumtaz Derya Tarhan

Energy sectors of most industrialized countries are marked by a long history of state and corporate-owned and highly centralized energy generation (mostly from fossil-based sources) and distribution. Although technological developments and pressures from social/ecological movements resulted in an increased uptake of renewable energy (RE) technologies since the early 1990s, the application of these technologies have since predominantly taken place through largescale projects owned by corporate actors. In response, an increasing number of individuals and community groups have been forming renewable energy cooperatives (RE co-ops) in recent years to provide bottom-up and collective solutions to their local needs and global environmental issues. The goal of this literature review is to summarize the demonstrated impacts of RE co-ops in the economic, social and environmental realms. Thereby, their impact on community development and role in accelerating the transition towards a sustainable energy sector is assessed. Findings of this review show that successful RE co-ops generated positive outcomes for their members and the wider community while accelerating the social and perceptual dimensions of the global energy transition. However, it has also been revealed that RE co-ops’ success in generating positive impacts is often limited by various community-specific factors and by financial and perceptual barriers to their emergence and development.

Keywords: COOPERATIVES; COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT; RENEWABLE ENERGY; COMMUNITY ENERGY; SUSTAINABILITY
JEL classification: J54; Q01; Q42; Q56; O13
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5947/jeod.2015.006
About authors: Mumtaz Derya Tarhan    Download .PDF