IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Social Enterprise and Renewable Energy: Issues of Sustainability and Self-Sufficiency


  • Mrs Caroline Morrison
  • Ms Emer Gallagher
  • Professor Elaine Ramsey
  • Mr Derek Bond


Objectives Whilst much has been written about the role of the 'bottom up' approach to renewable energy, there is still no clear insight into why only some schemes work. The objective of this paper is to illustrate how adopting a social constructivist approach gives more insight into the factors that lead to successful small scale renewable energy adoption. In particular, social enterprises are playing an increasing role in delivering the objectives of Europe 2020 (sustainability and self-sufficiency). This paper discusses these current trends with regards to community renewable energy projects. Prior Work There is a considerable body of literature on community renewable energy projects (Fudge et al., 2011; Walker et al., 2010, 2006; Warren and McFadyen, 2010). At a practical level, the importance of adopting the correct organisational structures has been highlighted (Gubbins, 2010; DETI, 2011). However, in the literature there has been little discussion of this issue. This could be because most of the academic literature is framed within the technological determinist paradigm and has its origins in subjects other than business. Approach The paper presents and discusses the findings of a large number of case studies that explore these issues, undertaken as part of the European Regional Development Fund's transnational Northern Periphery Programme's projects in renewable energy. Results and Implications The case studies identified that the main barriers were socio-economic rather than technical. The main finding is that nearly all successful community renewable energy initiatives had formed themselves into social enterprises. This was because they were better placed to address the key barriers identified. Uncovering this finding was possible through the adoption of a social constructivist approach which allowed the socio-economic issues to be carefully considered. The implication is that further work needs to be undertaken by adopting this paradigm. Value The main value of this paper is that it illustrates how adopting a social constructivist paradigm and using management theory helps to explain the complex issues surrounding the 'bottom up' approach to sustainability and self-sufficiency. In particular, the approach provides an ideal way of studying the functioning of social enterprises.

Suggested Citation

  • Mrs Caroline Morrison & Ms Emer Gallagher & Professor Elaine Ramsey & Mr Derek Bond, 2013. "Social Enterprise and Renewable Energy: Issues of Sustainability and Self-Sufficiency," Accounting, Finance and Economics Research Group Working Papers 2, Ulster Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:fsr:wpaper:2

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    social enterprise; renewable energy; innovation; social constructivism;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fsr:wpaper:2. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Derek Bond). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.