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The EnergyPROSPECTS team mapped 596 cases of energy citizenship in Europe

News: 20 September 2022.

During the first year of the project, the EnergyPROSPECTS team mapped energy citizenship in Europe: we wanted to find out about the diversity of forms of energy citizenship (or ENCI for short) – rather than conduct a representative analysis. Thus, the team mapped altogether 596 cases from Iceland to Turkey, from Italy to Norway, from Spain to Latvia (see the map). As our objective was to discover diversity, the number of cases mapped per country is in no way an indication of the overall number of cases to be found in the country, and neither is it an indication of which country supports energy citizenship more (we are conducting PESTEL analysis to find out about the latter).

But what exactly did we map? What do we understand by energy citizenship in the EnergyPROSPECTS project?

For the definition we refer to the conceptual framework of the project presented in Pel et al., 2021:

Energy citizenship refers to forms of civic involvement that pertain to the development of a more sustainable and democratic energy system. Beyond its manifest forms, ENCI also comprises various latent forms: it is an ideal that can be lived up to and realised to varying degrees, according to different framework conditions and states of empowerment.’ (Pel et al., 2021:64)

Building on this definition of energy citizenship a case in the EnergyPROSPECTS project is understood to be

1. a constellation of actors (in a context) and how it

  • enables/supports citizens to become active private and/or public energy citizens;
  • acts as a collective energy citizen by contributing to change of the energy system

or

2. including individual energy citizens and how they realize their potential in a private, public or organisational setting. (Vadovics et al., 2021)

As indicated by these definitions, and underlined by the agency dimension of the conceptual typology presented in Debourdeau et al. (2021), a case can be centred around an individual, or realised in a multitude of collective forms. Thus, during the mapping of the ENCI landscape focus was placed on collecting both types of cases. Indeed, it is important to note that although the term energy citizenship is often associated with energy communities or community energy projects, the objective of the EnergyPROSPECTS project is to uncover other forms of energy citizenship as well, including both individual and collective forms, reformative and transformative forms, etc.

As there is a huge variety of cases available that would fit the definitions above, and mapping them all would go beyond the scope and resources of the project, there was a need to further define what is considered a case within the research focus of the EnergyPROSPECTS project. Thus, the consortium decided at team workshops that the ENCI mapping activity will cover cases that:

  • are based in European countries (including EU, EEA and accession countries);
  • are currently active or were concluded no sooner than 2015 when the Energy Union Strategy was published. This is because the focus in the EnergyPROSPECTS research is not so much on the historical forms of ENCI, but rather on its current forms and manifestations, and the differences between them depending on the political, socio-economic, etc. characteristics of their context;
  • are focused on direct energy production and/or consumption (e.g. in households, organizations, etc.), mobility (with a direct connection to energy issues), or have a more holistic overall focus on sustainable and just energy. This means that in EnergyPROSPECTS a decision was made not to study initiatives that focus solely on nutrition, for example. However, if nutrition is part of an overall strategy for energy use or carbon footprint reduction, that also focuses on direct energy use, mobility, etc., then the case can be included (more details on the sampling strategy and the mapping methodology, including the mapping survey, can be found in Vadovics et al., 2021).

As a result of the mapping process, a very diverse collection of ENCI cases has emerged. As our analysis is still ongoing and the creation of our interactive database is currently at the planning stage, here we give a glimpse into the variety, which everyone will be able to explore in more detail as our outputs become available.

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