Policy challenges to community energy in the EU: A systematic review of the scientific literature

Henner Busch*, Salvatore Ruggiero, Aljosa Isakovic, Teis Hansen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In response to the ongoing climate crisis, many countries have issued policies to support the uptake of renewable energy. In the same vein, the European Union (EU) has issued a revised renewable energy directive in 2018. One of the pillars of the directive is the support for community energy initiatives, i.e. sustainable energy initiatives run by or with the participation of citizens. The concept of community energy (CE) has been linked to a number of advantages, such as strengthening local democratic processes or economic development for marginalised communities. The aim of this review article is to find out how past policies helped to overcome or aggravated transition challenges towards a higher share of community energy in the EU. To answer this question, we reviewed the scientific literature on community energy from the last decade. We analysed this body through a theoretical lens that highlights four main transition challenges. These occur in relation to 1) directionality, 2) demand articulation, 3) experimentation, 4) policy learning & coordination. Our results show that visions and goals are important policy tools for providing directionality in the energy transition. Feed-in-tariffs (FiT) surface as the most important policy to support community energy projects and spark demand. We found very little indication for a link between community energy and explicit experimentation. Nevertheless, learning does take place amongst peers. Our review underlined the important role intermediaries play in facilitating policy learning and coordination. We conclude by presenting a number of concrete policy recommendations such as strengthening intermediary organisations and providing administrative support to community energy initiatives in case of changes in the policy framework.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111535
Number of pages12
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Early online date5 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


  • Community energy
  • Directionality
  • Energy policy
  • Renewable energy
  • Transition challenges


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