Organizational structures for democratizing energy: Comparative insights from local initiatives in England

Jack Nicholls, Max Lacey-Barnacle

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


Energy decentralisation and decarbonisation has facilitated the growth of local and community ownership of renewable energy infrastructures. However, the extent to which such novel forms of ownership facilitate ‘energy democracy’ remains in question. Drawing on a wide set of qualitative primary data gathered in England between 2015 – 2019, we compare and contrast community models, the municipal energy model and the corporate governance model. Such governance models are distinctive from ownership types (private limited company and Co-operative). This chapter conducts a critical comparative analysis between these governance models and ownership types in order to understand the nature of democratisation in practice, using energy democracy as a guiding theoretical framework.

The chapter advances conceptual understandings of energy democracy through demonstrating the critical links between ownership and governance. Our findings reveal that limited company developments, when purchasing renewable energy as a local energy initiative, demonstrate limited democratic engagement with anyone beyond their shareholders and exhibited little direct involvement with the communities around the energy infrastructures they deployed. In contrast, the civil society models featured in our analysis demonstrated significant involvement with the local communities in which they were situated. We note that further interdisciplinary and comparative research into the structures used to democratise energy infrastructures is vital, especially in local and contextually specific contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDemocratizing Energy
PublisherElsevier Inc.
ISBN (Print)9780128227961
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022

Structured keywords

  • SPS Children and Families Research Centre


Dive into the research topics of 'Organizational structures for democratizing energy: Comparative insights from local initiatives in England'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this