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

Emily Creamer, Will Eadson, Bregje van Veelen, Annabel Pinker, Margaret Tingey, Tim Braunholtz-Speight, Marianna Markantoni, Mike Foden, Max Lacey-Barnacle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12378
JournalGeography Compass
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jul
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This paper is a product of the RIPPLES early career network (, and we are grateful to all members for creating the inspiring and supportive atmosphere that enables ideas and collaborations to flourish. We are also grateful to our project funders, listed at the beginning of the paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Authors. Geography Compass Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social and Economic Geography
  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • Energy Systems


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