Context and agency in urban community energy initiatives: An analysis of six case studies from the Baltic Sea Region

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this paper, we analyse community energy (CE) projects in urban settings. Building on insights from the literature on the geography of sustainability transitions, we examine how contextual conditions promote or hinder the development of CE. Furthermore, reflecting on calls for greater attention to agency in transitions, we investigated how actors engaged in urban CE projects exploit beneficial conditions or overcome obstacles related to some of the contextual conditions. Empirically, we draw on six case studies of CE projects from the Baltic Sea Region. To develop a thorough understanding of our cases we conducted 24 semi-structured interviews and analysed numerous secondary sources. Our results show that institutions as well as visions, e.g. plans for future energy generation, are important contextual features for urban CE projects. Local actors seek to overcome unfavourable contextual conditions for CE initiatives by building trust, appealing to their community’s sense of identity, networking, and promoting demonstration projects. Based on the results, we recommend that local and national governments address the following four issues to strengthen the role of CE in the transformation of urban energy systems: 1) harmonising policies; 2) creating a culture for transitions; 3) developing visions for CE; and 4) promoting policy learning from experiments.


External organisations
  • Aalto University
  • University of Kiel
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Economic Geography


  • Energy communities, Sustainability transition, Renewable energy, Urban energy systems, Citizens
Original languageEnglish
Article number111956
JournalEnergy Policy
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan 1
Publication categoryResearch

Related projects

Teis Hansen, Fabian Faller, Mantas Marciukaitis & Karoliina Auvinen


Project: ResearchInternational collaboration

Johanna Generosi, Rajni Hatti-Kaul, Sang-Hyun Pyo, Baozhong Zhang, Charlotta Turner, Irene Rodriguez Meizoso, Ola Wallberg, Christian Hulteberg, Olaf Diegel, Matti Ristinmaa, Lars J Nilsson, Ellen Palm, Karin Ericsson, Teis Hansen, Mikael Klintman, Johannes Stripple, Fredric Bauer, Stine Madsen, Patric Jannasch, Noomi Egan, Tobias Nielsen, Karl Holmberg, Anna Svantesson, Stephen Hall, Sayed Mahmoud, Oliver Englund Örn, Smita Mankar, Niklas Warlin, Nitin Valsange, Meher Sanku, Jacob Hasselbalch, Mikael Sjölin, Teis Hansen, Lu Chen, Axel Nordin, Jonas Engqvist, Nelly Garcia Gonzalez, William R. Newson, Eva Johansson, Ramune Kuktaite, Faraz Muneer, Erik Nilsson , Zengwei Guo, Josefin Ahlqvist & Sanel Peric


Project: Research

View all (2)