“Community” Renewable Energy Projects: A David Versus Goliath Battle? Insights from Two Initiatives in Denmark and France

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 13:45
Oral Presentation
Louise JENSEN, Institut for Planlægning Aalborg University, Denmark
Pierre WOKURI, ARÈNES-Centre de recherche sur l’action politique en Europe, Rennes, France
“Community” renewable energy projects are often presented as an “alternative” to a commercial and centralized model. By considering them as potential challengers within a strategic action field (Fligstein and McAdam, 2011), the renewable electricity market, this paper analyses to what extent these initiatives constitute market layouts in disruption and continuity with incumbents. Focused on two case studies, this contribution looks at the interactions between commercial developers and citizens’ organizations in respectively Denmark and France. Our hypothesis is that most of the time the citizen power plants actors do not challenge the incumbents and interact with them through two ways: absorption and hybridization. The former corresponds to limited partnerships between renewable energy companies and individual citizens around share offers or debt investment. The latter corresponds to protective coalitions from market forces between citizen groups, local authorities and/or commercial developers. However, there are some attempts from citizen actors to challenge directly the incumbents through two ways: competition when a citizen group competes directly with the incumbents and rupture when a citizen organization tries to develop a transformative initiative of the electricity market. This contribution will be focused on these two ways of interaction with two in-depth case studies, IDSE in France and Wind People in Denmark. Based on semi-structured interviews with citizens, NGOs employees, civil servants, our analysis of this confrontation between incumbents and challengers wishes to study the ability of challengers to shape the rules of electricity markets. To do so, our theoretical framework will be based on a similar approach used by scholars working on social movements influence on pharmaceutical firms(Weber and Rao, 2009), stock price returns(King and Soule, 2007) and recycling industry(Hirsch, Lounsbury and Ventresca, 2003).