This academic paper investigates citizens’ perceptions of the energy transition and the kinds of roles they see themselves playing in its implementation. Through a series of cross-sectional community engagements and other research tools, the authors seek to describe how local communities can become empowered to drive project development and engage meaningfully in the low-carbon energy transition.
The authors examined six communities in five European countries. Participants felt that, as citizens, they had limited agency to participate in energy system reforms and that, as energy consumers, they were locked into a restricted set of false choices that do not grant them meaningful power.
The authors call for energy governance structures and organizational formats that are participatory, inclusive, and mindful of the lived experiences of local people. They offer a “characterization tool” to help communities assess the potential for energy democracy and citizen participation within six different types of participatory business models. They also offer recommendations for how these models can incorporate citizens’ perspectives into planning and implementation, using examples to illustrate how considering a broader range of stakeholder perspectives can promote more equitable energy configurations.