The Energy Transition in Everyday Life: About epistemic rights and responsibilities in Local Energy Initiatives

Change towards sustainability is highly complex. The energy transition in the Netherlands is a long-term transformative and structural change of the Dutch energy system towards energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy resources.

Local Energy Initiatives (LEIs) have increasingly been coming up from the grassroots level for the last decade. LEIs are working on a sustainable energy system at the community level. Local governments have started to embrace them as an opportunity to create support for implementing environmental policies and electric utilities seem to be keen on incorporating them in their corporate social and environmental responsibility programmes.

Notwithstanding these developments, interaction and cooperation between these bottom-up initiatives and the established order does not come naturally. LEIs are generally led by volunteers while local governments and electric utilities are staffed by personnel, and both entities work from very different institutional logics. In addition, the energy transition is a socio-technical transition, which among others strongly relates to personal norms and values about a sustainable future, and involves specific technical and scientific knowledge.

The energy transition is still a transition-in-the-making and it is inherently unclear how a sustainable future will look like. This research project looks at real-life and real-time stakeholder interactions, which allows analysis of how people use moral concerns and knowledge claims to make their interest or points of view prevail. It aims at developing a communication instrument for enhancing a constructive and inclusive dialogue between LEIs and the energy system in which they operate.