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Community energy: entanglements of community, state, and private sector

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The decarbonisation of energy systems is leading to a reconfiguration of the geographies of energy. One example is the emergence of community energy, which has become a popular object of study for geographers. Although widely acknowledged to be a contested, capacious and flexible term, ‘community energy’ is commonly presented as singular, bounded and localised. In this paper, we challenge this conception of community energy by considering evidence about the role and influence of three categories of actors: community; state; and private sector. We demonstrate how community energy projects are unavoidably entangled with a diversity of actors and institutions operating at and across multiple scales. We therefore argue that community energy is enabled and constituted by trans-scalar assemblages of overlapping actors, which demands multi-sectoral participation and coordination. We point to the need for further academic attention on the boundaries between these actors to better understand the role of different intermediary practices and relationships in facilitating the development of decentralised energy systems with just outcomes.

Acceptance Date May 9, 2018
Publication Date Jun 28, 2018
Journal Geography Compass
Publisher Wiley
Keywords community energy, decentralised energy, energy transition, energy geographies, energy governance
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