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Energy Transition and Behavioural Change in Rural Areas

Energy Transition and Behavioural Change in Rural Areas

The Role of Energy Cooperatives

How can energy cooperatives contribute to energy transition in rural areas? In this study, Timo Kaphengst and Eike Velten examine the role of energy cooperatives for Sustainable Development, analyzing a case study in Northern Bavaria. The report is available for download.

Knowledge Interest: The Role of Energy Cooperatives

These are the three main topics of the study:

  • the embedding of energy cooperatives in rural areas and their meaning for rural development and sustainable energy production
  • governance structures as well as strengths and weaknesses of energy cooperatives
  • the motivation of the persons involved, regarding their engagement for sustainable energy supply
Theoretical Background: The Transition Management Concept

The study is based on the Transition Management Concept which assumes that long-term and complex societal transition can also be steered by political measures. Additionally, other approaches like practice theory and the diffusion of innovation theory have been included.

Methodical Approach: The Case Study in Bavaria

Besides a literature analysis, a survey and expert interviews, an empirical case study has been carried out in Rhön-Grabfeld in Northern Bavary where there are several energy cooperatives. The results were compared and complemented by other case studies in Denmark and Spain.

The study is available for Download [pdf, 3,4 MB, English].



Kaphengst, Timo und Eike Karola Velten 2014: Energy transition and behavioural change in rural areas - The role of energy cooperatives. Ecologic Institute.

81 pp.
Project ID
Table of Contents

Executive Summary
1. Introduction
1.1 Background
1.2 Scope and objectives of the study
1.3 The German energy transition as laboratory for energy transitions
1.4 Occurrence and characteristics of energy cooperatives in the EU
2. Theoretical background
2.1 Transition to sustainable development
2.1.1 The Multi-Level Perspective (MLP)
2.1.2 Transition Management (TM)
2.2 Behavioural changes in sustainability transitions
2.2.1 Practice Theory
3. Methodological approach
3.1 Case study in Northern Bavaria
3.1.1 First site visit
3.1.2 Second site visit
3.1.3 Online questionnaire
4. Results
4.1 Energy transition in rural Northern Bavaria
4.2 Key characteristics of energy cooperatives and their implementation in Northern Bavaria
4.3 Behavioural change in rural energy transition
4.3.1 Motivations of frontrunners
4.3.2 Changes in awareness and behaviour as a result of participating in an energy cooperative
4.4 Energy transition in Denmark and Spain
4.4.1 The case of the Island of Samsø
4.4.2 The case of “Som Energia” in Spain
5. Discussion
5.1 What drives transition towards renewable energies in rural areas?
5.2 Energy cooperatives – a model to foster sustainability transition in rural areas?
5.3 Do energy cooperatives foster behavioural change towards more sustainable consumption?
6. Conclusions and policy recommendations

Behavioural economics, Post-industrialisation, Social development, Social innovation, Socio-ecological transition, Transition research, Europe, Bavaria