Government support for community action
MetadataShow full item record
To limit climate change, the Dutch government aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 49% by 2030. To achieve this goal, a transformation in the energy sector is necessary. The production of renewable energy provides opportunities for a decentralised energy system. In the discourse of the ‘participation society’ in the Netherlands, local communities are increasingly perceived as key players in the transition to a low-carbon energy system. An emerging phenomenon in the renewable energy sector are Community Renewable Energy (CRE) initiatives. These can be defined as citizen-led initiatives that propose collaborative solutions on a local basis to facilitate the development of sustainable energy technologies and practices. The active role of citizens in the production of public goods lead to new roles of local and regional governments. The role of the government is not vanishing, but rather shifting towards a more responsive and facilitating government. This research aims to answer the following research question: How and to what extent do local and regional governments support CRE initiatives? The research question is answered by comparing the two case studies of the municipalities of The Hague and Rotterdam. In addition, the regional level is included by analysing the role of the Province of South Holland. In total twenty-eight in-depth interviews were conducted with CRE initiative representatives, intermediary representatives, municipal officials, provincial officials, and experts. To structure the empirical research the initiatives were classified on their types and phases. The results reveal that the municipalities mainly offered advice and legal support in the facilitating role and subsidies and roofs to install solar panels in stimulating CRE initiatives. Compared to Rotterdam, The Hague offered more and diverse practices, such as hosting a working group and organising a prize competition. The province of South Holland mainly offers a subsidy and created a learning network in which initiatives exchange experiences and knowledge. The offered practices varied by phase, rather than type of initiative. The supportive role of the municipalities is limited due to the lack of internal alignment, flexibility (bureaucracy), resources and capacity, participation of initiatives, and lack of vision by the municipality. The absence of policies on dealing with citizen initiatives limits the supportive role of the municipalities and province. The results indicate that the governments have great potential to enhance their supportive role. Ultimately, the initiatives want to gradually grow towards a partnership with the municipality to work in process of co-creation to achieve results in the energy transition.