Explaining the diversity of motivations behind community renewable energy
Community-based renewable energy initiatives may be important actors in the transition toward low-carbon energy systems. In turn, stimulating investments in renewable energy production at the community level requires a better understanding of investors' motives. This paper aims to study the heterogeneity of motivations that drive individuals to participate in community renewable energy projects and the underlying explanatory factors behind this, as well as the implications for their level of engagement in initiatives. Based on quantitative data from an original survey conducted with two renewable energy cooperatives in Flanders, the statistical analysis shows that cooperative members should not be considered as one homogeneous group. Several categories of members with different motives and levels of engagement can be distinguished. This heterogeneity is explained by contrasts in terms of institutional settings, spatial patterns and attitudes to the diffusion of institutional innovations. Regarding policy implications, the findings suggest that this heterogeneity should be taken into account in designing more effective supporting policies to stimulate investments at the community level. The activation of social norms is also shown to be a promising mechanism for triggering investment decisions, although the implications of its interplay with economic incentives should be further explored.
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