The role of institutional entrepreneurship in emerging energy communities: The town of St: Peter in Germany
نقش کارآفرینی نهادی در جوامع نوظهور انرژی: شهر سنت پیتر در آلمان-2019
This paper provides insights from the extant literature on institutional entrepreneurship in emerging fields which could enable us to understand how the innovative idea of ‘energy community’ arose, became new practices, and has been institutionalized over time. In August 2008, the people of St. Peter, a Black Forest rural town in Germany, decided to build their own energy co-operative for the operation of the biomass District Heating Plant (DHP). The key driving forces for this comprised a wide range of sustainability-related discourses, such as climate protection, energy supply security, and regional economic development. The biomass DHP, as an environmentally- friendly heating system, has become a taken-for-granted practice and has been presented as an ‘inspirational’ example to other communities in the region. The main contribution of this study is to develop and use a multi-level analytical framework to elucidate the process of legitimation and sense-making of the notion of the energy community St. Peter. The key conclusions are that institutional entrepreneurs are dispersed across space, social status, sector, and governance levels; their agency is distributed among multiple levels of action and multiple stages of development; and they use a range of social skills to justify their action for institutional change. Therefore, community-based initiatives should draw on multiple discourses that address both individual interests (stable prices and supply security) and collective concerns (environmental protection). In this way, wide public support for transforming existing energy practices into more renewable ones can be achieved.
Keywords: Institutional entrepreneurship | Emerging fields | Agency | Structuration | Renewable energy practices | Local energy transition