Waal, E. van der, MSc.

Community Innovation for Sustainable Energy. Aligning technological and societal innovations

Science & Society Group, Energy & Sustainability Research, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, University of Groningen, e.c.van.der.waal@rug.nl

Supervisors: Dr. H. van der Windt, Prof. G.P.. Dijkema


Completed a Bachelor in Human Geography, Spatial Planning and Socio-political Sciences of the Environment at the Radboud University in Nijmegen. Specialized during her Master in European Spatial and Environmental Planning, also at the Radboud Univeristy. The topic of the graduation research was social impact assessment of community-owned renewable energy initiatives. For this research she interned at the Sustainable Community Energy Network in Edinburgh, Scotland, an internationally operating research and consultancy enterprise in the field of community renewable energy.



This PhD project is part of the MVI project ‘Community Innovation for Sustainable Energy. Aligning technological and societal innovations’ that is funded by NWO. In this project, also TU Twente participates as well as Hanzehogeschool Groningen and various private partners. The University of Groningen is project leader. This project studies the practices of the Dutch energy cooperatives and evaluates these initiatives in terms of their actual and potential role in the sustainable energy transition.

Research questions are: What kinds of technologies do these cooperatives choose, hoe does their involvement affect these technologies? How are cooperatives related to surrounding structures and processes of the existing energy regimes? What can be learned from contemporary Dutch innovative collectives in relation to the past and to collectives in other European settings?

This project is built along three sub-themes. Part 1 studies the role and potential of Dutch collectives in the management of common goods in the past taking the work of Hess & Ostrom and the De Moor on commons and collectives as starting point.

Part 2 uses the multi-level approach as an additional theoretical framework. The aim is to study the way in which Danish, British, Austrian and German energy collectives are framed in terms of identity and values, social organization and dominant practices/technologies. How did these collectives connect their values on sustainability, ownership and responsibility and local experiences to the higher levels of society?

Part 3 compares the Dutch situation to these four European countries. What are the characteristics of Dutch local energy initiatives, in terms of value orientation, practices and organization, what technology do they adopt or stimulate, in particular smart grids and storage systems? How do the new systems evolve and stabilize what conditions can be identified?