Positive energies? An empirical study of community energy participation and attitudes to renewable energy

Thomas Bauwens, Patrick Devine-Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


It has been suggested that participation in community energy initiatives may play an important role in enabling a transition towards renewable energy (RE) deployment by fostering positive attitudes toward renewables. Yet, little is known about how members of community energy initiatives differ from non-members in terms of energy attitudes and whether different profiles of community energy members exist. This article empirically analyses the relations between community energy membership and attitudes toward RE and onshore wind energy. Based on statistical analyses of a large-scale quantitative dataset from an original survey (N = 3963) conducted with two energy cooperatives in Belgium, it contrasts different groups of cooperative members with each other and a comparison group of non-members. Results show that members have significantly more positive attitudes towards RE than non-members. Results also suggest that non-members tend to be more indifferent or more uncertain, not more objecting, than members to wind power. Finally, significant differences among cooperative members are highlighted, illustrating the contrast between communities of place and communities of interest. The findings suggest a novel perspective on the benefits of community energy membership – to overcome indifference or uncertainty – that is relevant to foster a rapid and socially acceptable low carbon transition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)612-625
Number of pages14
JournalEnergy Policy
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Renewable energy
  • Community energy
  • Wind power
  • Cooperative
  • Social acceptance


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