Practices and dynamics of community-led heating projects

Tineke van der Schoor, Henny J. Van der Windt

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Community energy can be conceptualized as a social movement, which aims to develop a sustainable, democratic, and localist energy system. Increasingly, community energy initiatives aim to develop citizen-led heating projects. District heating projects are characterized by costly investments, a substantial overhaul of local infrastructure, large installations for heat production, and require
specialized technical knowledge.
Based on Social Movement Theory, we developed a theoretical framework consisting of three main networks: internal, external, and material.
In the Netherlands, we studied four cases of citizen-led heating projects. Our primary research question is what a citizen-led DH-project constitutes. We focus on four themes: the internal organization of the CH-project; its outreach to local citizens; the role of technical knowledge and technology choices; the changing role of municipalities in the local energy transition.
We situate our findings against a broader European background. We conclude that a democratic structure, transparency of decision making, and a high level of neighborhood participation are key success factors. However, in some cases the choice for a low-cost solution led to concessions to the sustainability of the proposed solutions.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 22 Mar 2023
EventEnergy, Environment and Societies in Crises: Sixth Conference Energy & Society - University of Trento, Trento, Italy
Duration: 6 Sept 20238 Sept 2023


ConferenceEnergy, Environment and Societies in Crises
Internet address


  • heating transition
  • energy transition
  • local energy initiatives


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