Increasingly, discussions on sustainability, in particular in relation to energy transition, are finding their way to the regional and local political arena. Although for analysing transition pathways on these sub-national scales, conceptual frameworks such as the multi-level perspective may be helpful, some issues remain relatively unaddressed: the relevance of citizens and their social networks and the precise interactions between place, the local context, and external conditions. This paper aims to better understand energy transition processes on the local and regional scale by analysing the case of the Dutch island of Ameland. Since 2006, Ameland has been on a sustainability pathway towards self-sufficiency, in particular in terms of reducing CO2 emissions. In this case study, we conducted in-depth empirical analysis, using a mixed-methods approach, including document analysis and ethnographic techniques. In a five-stage development process, a combination of place-related niche development, regime developments, and the involvement of citizens have created a protective space for several socio-technological innovations to emerge. The unique combination of specific local conditions, in particular political and cultural, and external influences, national policy, and ‘enlightened’ companies have shaped ideal conditions for Ameland to become an inspiring example of innovation in regional transition processes.
- community involvement
- citizens' engagement
- regional energy transition
- place-based niche development