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Taking stock of the local impacts of community owned renewable energy: A review and research agenda

Anna Berka () and Emily Creamer

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2018, vol. 82, issue P3, 3400-3419

Abstract: A growing literature suggests that community owned renewable energy (CRE) projects have the potential to deliver a range of environmental and local socio-economic benefits. There is relatively little empirical evidence to substantiate this, with few systematic efforts to assess social and environmental impacts or to understand the context in which given impacts arise. In this paper, we review and conceptualise the local impacts commonly cited in the literature and dissect the empirical evidence currently available to support their occurrence. Having assessed the quality of evidence and pinpointed knowledge gaps, we draw on methodological literature to identify approaches necessary to improve our understanding of the local impacts of CRE and explore their patterns of occurrence. We find a lack of robust survey and statistical evidence across all the seven impact categories identified. Of the impacts identified, ‘empowerment’ and ‘access to affordable energy’ are found to be the least studied. In addition, several impacts are associated only with specific types of community energy projects. We argue that the paucity of consistent evidence for direct impacts associated with the development processes and direct outcomes of projects suggests that the most substantial local impacts result from medium to long term indirect project outcomes and the investment of project revenues in the local community. As such, collective funding pools and negotiation processes around their distribution towards private versus public goods play a crucial role in determining transformative local impacts of CRE.

Keywords: Community energy; Ownership; Renewable energy; Impact assessment; Local impacts; United Kingdom (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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