Exploring the field of Local Wind Energy Organizations in the Netherlands: Researching the interaction between the niche of LRWEOs and the energy regime
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The Netherlands is producing only 3.7% of its gross final energy consumption via renewable energy sources, while the average in the EU-27 is 8.7%. This means the Netherlands is lagging behind in renewable energy production within the European Union, while a transition towards a renewable energy system is important in battling climate change. Therefore the Netherlands has to put in a greater effort in creating more renewable energy. Transitioning from fossil fuel based energy towards renewable energy encompasses several things. First of all it will mean more decentralized generation of energy. Second this decentralization and technologies such as solar panels and wind turbines allow for new actors such as local communities, municipalities and small businesses to enter the market of energy production. The Netherlands has seen an up rise in Local Renewable Energy Organizations (LREOs) since 2007. However, little research has focused on these initiatives and how they relate to the existing energy regime. This research focused on analyzing the interaction between niche and regime, i.e. between LREOs focused on on-shore wind energy production (LRWEOs) and the on-shore wind energy regime. The research focuses on LRWEOs because a large part of the renewable energy production in the Netherlands will be based on wind energy (both on- and off-shore) and especially on-shore wind energy is prone to many difficulties arise with the traditional methods for realizing this. This is summarized in the Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) principle. The practice of LRWEOs could provide a needed opposing point of view on the realization of on-shore wind turbines, because local participation is at the heart of it. This research uses the theories of Strategic Niche Management (SNM) and Transition Management (TM) to explore the impact LRWEOs have on the incumbent regime. Furthermore these theories are supplemented with notions of literature on Modes of Governance to overcome some of the deficits associated with SNM and TM theory. The results show that four main themes can be identified that best describe the struggles of the niche of LRWEOs to become a more stable factor within the regime. These themes are: opportunity, ground positions, niche building and local support.