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Renewable Energy Cooperatives: A Review of Demonstrated Impacts and Limitations


  • Mumtaz Derya Tarhan

    () (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) University of Toronto)


Energy sectors of most industrialized countries are marked by a long history of state and corporate-owned and highly centralized energy generation (mostly from fossil-based sources) and distribution. Although technological developments and pressures from social/ecological movements resulted in an increased uptake of renewable energy (RE) technologies since the early 1990s, the application of these technologies have since predominantly taken place through largescale projects owned by corporate actors. In response, an increasing number of individuals and community groups have been forming renewable energy cooperatives (RE co-ops) in recent years to provide bottom-up and collective solutions to their local needs and global environmental issues. The goal of this literature review is to summarize the demonstrated impacts of RE co-ops in the economic, social and environmental realms. Thereby, their impact on community development and role in accelerating the transition towards a sustainable energy sector is assessed. Findings of this review show that successful RE co-ops generated positive outcomes for their members and the wider community while accelerating the social and perceptual dimensions of the global energy transition. However, it has also been revealed that RE co-ops’ success in generating positive impacts is often limited by various community-specific factors and by financial and perceptual barriers to their emergence and development.

Suggested Citation

  • Mumtaz Derya Tarhan, 2015. "Renewable Energy Cooperatives: A Review of Demonstrated Impacts and Limitations," Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity, European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises, vol. 4(1), pages 104-120, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:trn:csnjrn:v:4:i:1:p:104-120

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rogers, J.C. & Simmons, E.A. & Convery, I. & Weatherall, A., 2008. "Public perceptions of opportunities for community-based renewable energy projects," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(11), pages 4217-4226, November.
    2. Walker, Gordon, 2008. "What are the barriers and incentives for community-owned means of energy production and use?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 4401-4405, December.
    3. Pier Angelo Mori, 2013. "Customer ownership of public utilities: new wine in old bottles," Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity, European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises, vol. 2(1), pages 54-74, August.
    4. Musall, Fabian David & Kuik, Onno, 2011. "Local acceptance of renewable energy--A case study from southeast Germany," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 3252-3260, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:enepol:v:121:y:2018:i:c:p:162-174 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:eee:rensus:v:94:y:2018:i:c:p:1036-1043 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:9:p:3339-:d:170600 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:eee:rensus:v:94:y:2018:i:c:p:187-196 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    cooperatives; community development; renewable energy; community energy; sustainability;

    JEL classification:

    • J54 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Producer Cooperatives; Labor Managed Firms
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products


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