My brief from the steering group was to consider definitions and key concepts research into community energy, and how different theories and analytical frameworks capture some of the diversity and dynamics of community energy. All with a view to facilitating comparison between research. Not an easy task, especially in 10 minutes!I thought it inadvisable to review all the different theoretical frameworks in play, since I do not understand them all, and people here can discuss them much better. Rather, I thought I’d risk raising some speculative propositions, intended to help discussion between quite diverse research projects on a very diverse topic. Those projects that I am aware of seem to me to adopt a problem-oriented starting point. That is, they bring various theoretical perspectives to bear to either understanding, evaluating or supporting community energy (cf. starting with a theoretical issue, such as institutional entrepreneurship in organisational studies, and drawing on CE to interrogate it). With that in mind, I will talk about two things:The links between how we conceive CE as an energy or development challenge and the analytical themes that arise thereinThe links between values and framings towards CE and the kinds of knowledge that get emphasisedIn addition, I have drawn upon a literature review undertaken by my colleague Sabine Hielscher earlier this year, and which will soon be on the grassrootsinnovations.org website.
Geographical-; identity-; issue-based communities. Sustainable energy = issue-based, clearly, with big overlap of geography and identityMove from grants to social enterprise – wipes out lots of smaller CE, e.g. community halls; ones that cannot raise capital or take on risk of loans. Social enterprises change characteristics of ‘community’ energy, and therefore how we conceptualise it?Dversify sources for grants as a response – lottery funding, health funding etc.
So CE includes a place-based notion of community – local-scale energy projects – but with the focus on energy and wider networks of support and advice implying community of interest aspects also. Some definitions situate CE in distinction to other forms of energy governance, such as regulated utilities, state provision, individual households and businesses (though partnerships are often important, so the boundaries are blurred). The definitions imply certain kinds of energy technology and energy practice are amenable to CE. Another feature of these definitions is the role of people in the process and outcomes of projects affecting them – so notions of social justice. And often there is a normative tone to the definition – implying community to be good thing, or that community projects are desirable. This has long been a feature of the CD literature, where ‘community’ is a contested term used for rhetorical and political purposes for top-down measures rather than.But the main overall feature, I think, is the way they combine energy and development issues – next slide!
Concept 1 – a collection of attributes – things that community energy is good at.
Community development been a contested term and resource throughout its history. Providing competing legitimacies for different interests and purposes.Geographical-; identity-; issue-based communities. Sustainable energy = issue-based, clearly, with big overlap of geography and identitySustainable energy? For whom, how, and why – the contested qualities of sustainability. CE projects as ‘simple’ niches cf. ‘strategic’ niches, i.e. Groups who wish to simply power their community centre with cleaner energy used more efficiently (saving money), cf. groups who see themselves as part of a decentralised, democratic energy revolution.Signals three enduring issues in community development generally:Community development as conservative/ameliorating treatment of immediate surface issues or transformational/empowering address of root causes in socio-economic justiceIssues about the balance between community development as a technical, professionalised service cf. value-based radical activism.3. Cutting across these two:Development for communities – top-down, role in management/delivery of activities (targets and outputs)Development with communities – bottom-up, role in strategic direction/negotiation of activities (process and outcomes)1) co-operatives, such as windfarms and community heating projects; 2) community charities, such as associations and organisations; 3) development trusts which raise funds for community energy projects ; and 4) shares owned by a local community organisation, for instance in utility energy projects
ENERGYNovel energy initiatives (cf. centralised, market provision)Innovative space (using energy technologies in novel ways and purposes)Policy goal (studying how policy context shapes CE)Part of policy environment is partnerships (focus on other local-level and national actors)These governance arrangements influences opportunities for further energy initiativeWhich affects the innovative spacePolicy increasingly interested, as are some groups, in a social enterprise modelWhich re-shapes energy initiatives and the innovative spaceAnother feature to policy-oriented analysis is understanding and interrogating normative claimsAnalysis of performance is central hereWhich is tied up with issues of measurement, but also the way research feeds back and performs its own role in CEA further normative claim is that CE is good for development. When we conceive of it as development, then other analytical issues ariseCapabilities required and developed through CE initiatives is one focusIncluding the partnerships that developQuestions about participation in CE are important to some research projectsWhich links back to some of the organisational and ownership arrangements in energy initiatives and their consequences for other issuesConceiving of this as a development issue also brings to the foreground questions about the uneven distribution and scale of activityWhich relates, in part, back to capabilities, but also to policiesMeasuring development consequences introduces another set of measurement (and measurability) issuesA development conceptualisation also emphasises looking at initiatives on participant terms – the aspirations and values in play, and which need not relate principally or exclusively to energyThis links back to questions of capabilities and social enterprise, though not exclusively... But looking to what extent they are part of broader social movements for community development, including simply retaining some local resilience, improving local infrastructure (village halls), or developing revenue streams for non-energy thingsWhich brings into view the classical CD dilemmas of t-d professionalism and b-u empowerment
So what? Reality is complex! The point is not that we need to synthesise and integrate a comprehensive map. That would not be very helpful. Rather, the point is to illustrate that whatever salient features of CE are present in our own theoretical approaches, one of the interesting things about CE is the way it really brings to the foreground that energy is a development issue.Moreover, no single theoretical approach can cover this rich set of themes – indeed, each theoretical position would draw the picture differently. My presentation presumes energy and development are conceptually distinct, but concludes that they are inseperable.
BUT actually, all this is a bit contrived, since each theoretical perspective would draw the diagram very differently, rather than be located in different places on the same diagram.Socio-technical transitions theory would bring in themes to do with incumbent energy systems and the structuring effects these have on CE. Theoretical perspectives drawing upon political economy would look at government-utility interdependencies in different ways, but similarly look at CE in quite structured ways.
From NEF report - (1) community development needs to start from how people themselves define their situation, the challenges they face and their aspirations and assets; (2) communities are stronger where people who use services are helped to find good ways of making a valued local contribution, not just seen as in need of care; (3) most support is delivered by families and social networks - it is critical that services support and work in partnership with people who make unpaid contributions; (4) the personalisation of public services marks a genuine change when it represents a change in culture, aspirations and the availability of a wider choice of support providers, not just a change in funding mechanisms; (5) to live fully, we all need to be able to make informed choices, to take risks and to experience the consequences of our choices; (6) public sector contributions are more cost-effective when they look across the pattern of local assets and needs, not just at those assessed as ‘most needy’; and (7) micro-scale enterprises and interventions can be a powerful vehicle for mobilising new contributions and enabling people to co-design and share ownership in services which are personalised to their needs
Community energy: concepts, analysis, values
Thinking about community energy: concepts, analysis, values<br />Adrian Smith, SPRU, University of Sussex<br />presentation to UKERC workshop on local energy governance <br />Oxford, 3rd October 2011<br />
Community energy in the UK: diverse and dynamic<br />Wide variety:<br />- energy generation, efficiency, behaviours - technologies<br />- organisation - resource models<br />- geography and social groups - established, planned, aspiring<br />Policy narratives - government favourably disposed over last decade, but linked to different agendas (‘local awareness’ to ‘role in transition’ to ‘Localism’ and ‘Big Society’)<br />Policy support - advice services, grant programmes, competitions, market frameworks & social enterprise (CRI, LCBP/CCF, LCCCP, FIT/Green Deal)<br />Governance networks shifting & developing roles in response to policy and groundswell:<br />initiate community work and/or maintain networks (e.g. CORE, EST)<br /> share experience, good practice, expertise and advice (e.g. CSE) <br />lobby and advocate community energy in the policy context (e.g. LCCN) <br />provide specific products to community initiatives (e.g. revolving funds) <br />create an interface between initiatives and policy-makers/ business actors (e.g. CCAA) <br />create partnerships with community energy initiatives (e.g. LAs)<br />
Definitions<br />Godfrey Boyle (1978) Community Technology:<br />“Community technology likewise implies ... An emphasis on technologies tailored to the needs of, and amenable to control by, ‘the community’, where the community is of a size small enough to enable genuine face-to-face participation in all important decisions, and where the political institutions of the community place power in the hands of the community in general, rather than in the hands of an elite of ‘leaders’.”<br />Kate Hathway,(2010) Community Power Empowers<br />“Community projects involve local groups developing low carbon energy solutions appropriate to local situations and with community groups having ownership over the outcomes. Examples include solar water heating clubs, or insulation clubs, which provide mutual support for system installation; energy awareness and behaviour networks, which provide guidance and reassurance to neighbours on energy matters relevant to them; and co-operatively owned small-scale renewable energy systems such as micro-hydro and wind.” <br />United Nations (1953) <br />Community development is “a movement to promote better living for the whole community, with active participation and if possible on the initiative of the community.”<br />
Community energy as a mode of energy governance<br />Walker and Cass, 2007<br />
Community energy as set of characteristics<br />Steward et al (2009) – 6 characteristics:<br /><ul><li>doing things together
developing and demonstrating</li></li></ul><li>Community energy as community development<br />Source: Walker and Devine-Wright (2008)<br />Community development is ‘a movement to promote better living for the whole community [i.e. outcome], with active participation and if possible on the initiative of the community [i.e. process]’<br />(UN, 1953; italics added) <br />
Community energy as a social enterprise<br />Source: Pearce (2003)<br />
Conceptualising community energy and analytical themes<br />Partnerships:<br /><ul><li>Local authorities
Performativity of research</li></li></ul><li>Values and knowledge<br />
Summarising<br />Community energy reminds us in quite stark ways how energy governance involves issues of social development<br />A plurality of research approaches helps to reflect a dynamic and plural reality <br />Comparing research in enriching ways requires us to be clear about our respective starting points, perspectives and purposes<br />The kinds of knowledge we help develop, either in ‘linear’ or ‘co-produced’ modes, will be interpreted, emphasised, and remembered through the values and framings in play<br />Plural research that emphasises the different energy and development issues is therefore important for policy too – keeping open an awareness of the different possibilities and countering restricting top-down tendencies<br />Community Innovation in Sustainable Energy<br />www.grassrootsinnovations.org<br />