Making Sense of the Scottish Community Energy Sector–An Organising Typology

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The community energy sector is widely understood to be a pluralistic sector, encompassing a broad range of aims, motivations, and practices. This heterogeneity is, however, still not very well understood. Dominant analytical frameworks in the study of energy geographies offer little in the way of exploring the diversity of motivations, visions, and social relations that are present within the community energy sector, nor their causes or consequences. Drawing on the notion of ‘critical pluralism’, this paper aims to highlight the diverse range of sociotechnical configurations that make up this sector in Scotland, and begins to discuss some potential causes and consequences. To do so, it presents a novel community energy typology, based on an analysis of technical and social dimensions of 367 projects in Scotland. This shows that whilst the Scottish community energy sector contains a broad range of motivations, technologies, and social practices, the sector has become dominated by groups for whom energy generation is a means to achieve local socio-economic development. The paper discusses the community-level and policy drivers that may have contributed to this. It also discusses how we can begin to understand a diverse sector’s ability to affect the wider structures in which it operates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalScottish Geographical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 2
Externally publishedYes

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • Energy Systems

Free keywords

  • community development
  • community energy
  • critical pluralism
  • energy geographies
  • Scottish energy policy
  • typology


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