Organizing the energy transition. The institutional and socio-material challenge of renewable energy communities

Organizing the energy transition. The institutional and socio-material challenge of renewable energy communities

Cette séance est présentée par Giada Coleandro (doctorant.e à l'Univsersité de Bologne et invité.e à Pacte)


Résumé (séance en anglais):

"After a long period of desocialisation from energy, characterised by relationships mediated only by switches and bills, the energy transition leads us to question the relationship between energy systems and the functioning of society itself. Moreover, in the face of overlapping environmental, social, economic and political crises, the energy transition cannot be approached simply by switching from one energy source to another. The decentralisation of energy systems, thanks to the distributed nature of renewable energy sources (RES), is presented as an alternative to centralised fossil energy systems. According to several perspectives, it will improve the efficiency of the grid, promote democratisation through the participation of new actors and enable the social acceptance of RES, with the aim of accelerating the energy transition. This research analyses the process of energy decentralisation through the implementation of Renewable Energy Communities (RECs) in Italy. Transition studies have defined energy systems as complex socio-technical systems composed of institutions, actors and technological and infrastructural artefacts.


Energy decentralisation thus emerges as a co-evolutionary process that implies and affects all these dimensions. In this context, the research seeks to answer the following questions: given that energy systems are given by the co-presence of formal and informal institutions and rules, what kind ofinstitutional changes are brought about by the introduction of Energy Communities ? Who is pushing for change and who is trying to resist it? How does the introduction of RECs shape the role of citizenship and local actors? And how does it affect the relationship between knowledge and participation in energy systems? Finally, what are the political implications of the decentralised reconfiguration of energy infrastructure brought about by the introduction of RECs ?


The final aim of the thesis is therefore to promote a critical analysis of the process of decentralisation of energy systems in Italy, showing the links and influences between these issues in order to present some useful conclusions for policy making and collective action. The research is based on the Italian case and proposes an in-depth study of the case of Bologna, where for three years an attempt has been made to create an energy community in a working-class neighbourhood on the north eastern outskirts of the city."

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