During the first year of the project, the EnergyPROSPECTS team mapped energy citizenship in Europe: we wanted to find out about the diversity of forms of energy citizenship (or ENCI for short) – rather than conduct a representative analysis. Thus, the team mapped altogether 596 cases from Iceland to Turkey, from Italy to Norway, from Spain to Latvia (see the map). As our objective was to discover diversity, the number of cases mapped per country is in no way an indication of the overall number of cases to be found in the country, and neither is it an indication of which country supports energy citizenship more (we are conducting PESTEL analysis to find out about the latter).

But what exactly did we map? What do we understand by energy citizenship in the EnergyPROSPECTS project? For the definition we refer to the conceptual framework of the project presented in Pel et al., 2021:

Energy citizenship refers to forms of civic involvement that pertain to the development of a more sustainable and democratic energy system. Beyond its manifest forms, ENCI also comprises various latent forms: it is an ideal that can be lived up to and realised to varying degrees, according to different framework conditions and states of empowerment.’ (Pel et al., 2021:64)

Building on this definition of energy citizenship a case in the EnergyPROSPECTS project is understood to be

1. a constellation of actors (in a context) and how it

  • enables/supports citizens to become active private and/or public energy citizens;
  • acts as a collective energy citizen by contributing to change of the energy system


2. including individual energy citizens and how they realize their potential in a private, public or organisational setting. (Vadovics et al., 2021)

As indicated by these definitions, and underlined by the agency dimension of the conceptual typology presented in Debourdeau et al. (2021), a case can be centred around an individual, or realised in a multitude of collective forms. Thus, during the mapping of the ENCI landscape focus was placed on collecting both types of cases. Indeed, it is important to note that although the term energy citizenship is often associated with energy communities or community energy projects, the objective of the EnergyPROSPECTS project is to uncover other forms of energy citizenship as well, including both individual and collective forms, reformative and transformative forms, etc.

As there is a huge variety of cases available that would fit the definitions above, and mapping them all would go beyond the scope and resources of the project, there was a need to further define what is considered a case within the research focus of the EnergyPROSPECTS project. Thus, the consortium decided at team workshops that the ENCI mapping activity will cover cases that:

  • are based in European countries (including EU, EEA and accession countries);
  • are currently active or were concluded no sooner than 2015 when the Energy Union Strategy was published. This is because the focus in the EnergyPROSPECTS research is not so much on the historical forms of ENCI, but rather on its current forms and manifestations, and the differences between them depending on the political, socio-economic, etc. characteristics of their context;
  • are focused on direct energy production and/or consumption (e.g. in households, organizations, etc.), mobility (with a direct connection to energy issues), or have a more holistic overall focus on sustainable and just energy. This means that in EnergyPROSPECTS a decision was made not to study initiatives that focus solely on nutrition, for example. However, if nutrition is part of an overall strategy for energy use or carbon footprint reduction, that also focuses on direct energy use, mobility, etc., then the case can be included (more details on the sampling strategy and the mapping methodology, including the mapping survey, can be found in Vadovics et al., 2021).

As a result of the mapping process, a very diverse collection of ENCI cases has emerged. As our analysis is still ongoing and the creation of our interactive database is currently at the planning stage, here we give a glimpse into the variety, which everyone will be able to explore in more detail as our outputs become available.

About 85% of the cases mapped are some form of collective energy citizenship, but they are of very different types. There are, of course, community energy cases such as the Aran Islands Energy Co-operative (Ireland), Som Energia in Spain, or the Tory Renewable Energy Co-operative in Turkey. The Community Virtual Power Plant Loenen in the Netherlands could be mentioned here as well. Some of the community energy cases focus specifically on gender issues, for example the Windfang Women’s Energy Community in Germany.

There are also collective cases that support the uptake of renewable energy and/or the development of community energy initiatives. These kinds of cases can be found in most of the countries mapped, and include, for example, the SHURA Energy Transition Center in Turkey, REScoop VPP in the Netherlands, FoE Spain Free the Sun, or the Community Energy Service Company in Hungary. A special type in this group is the E.ON Energy Globe Award organised in several countries to reward sustainable energy and lifestyle related initiatives, and thereby encouraging and supporting energy citizenship.

Another type of collective cases are social movements, for example, for or against a specific type of energy source, such as the Against gas case in Belgium or the Women’s Resistance Against Hydroelectric Power Plants in Turkey. There are social movements campaigning for a more general change, like Extinction Rebellion and the Fridays for Future campaigns active in many of the mapped countries, or Association “Protest” in Latvia.

There are cases of energy citizenship focusing on certain target groups, for example students, like the Student Switch off Campaigns in Bulgaria, or the Climate Students case in Sweden. There are also many cases working with and involving those in energy poverty, for example the Heat columns case in Hungary or the case focusing on Empowering Energy Poor Citizens in Latvia. Furthermore, there are cases working specifically towards increased levels of energy justice, such as the Sufficient for All case in Slovenia, or More Sharing_MeerDelen in the Netherlands.

Some cases were born of the need to empower sustainable energy behaviour and action in the home, exemplified by the Energy saving check case in Germany, EnergyNeighbourhoods in Hungary, or The Home Energy Saving Kit case in Ireland. And while these cases focus more on the human and social aspects of the sustainable energy transition, others concentrate more on the technical, and are intended to spread low-carbon building practices, such as Passive House Latvija, the Green Walk in Hungary, and the Houseboat Space in the Netherlands. Some cases combine these two aspects, for example the Carbon House in Hungary.

The landscape of energy citizenship also includes cases centred around municipalities, settlements or communities. These include cases like the Active Citizens for Independent Energy Municipalities in Bulgaria, the Energy Management Competition for Local Authorities in Latvia, but also municipalities where sustainable energy production and use, or more holistically sustainable living has become the central organising concept, for example in the case of Nagypáli, the renewable energy village in Hungary, Cloughjordan Ecovillage in Ireland, Ecotown the Flower of Life in Spain, or Footprint Guimaraes in Portugal.

The mapping considered citizen consultation and assembly cases related to sustainable energy as well, such as the Citizen Convention for Climate in France, the Citizens’ Climate Assembly in Germany, and The Sámi Parliament’s view on wind power in Sápmi in Sweden.

Still, in the collective category of energy citizenship we also find cases organised around mobility issues, for example the Zero Emission Mobility Support Society in Latvia, Bike Evolution in Bulgaria, Urbike in Belgium, or Cargonomia in Hungary. While these cases center around on-the-ground travel, there are mobility related social movements as well, targeting in-the-air travel, such as We stand on the ground – Flight Free in Sweden.

Finally, individual cases of energy citizenship, comprising 15% of the database, need also be mentioned. They include inspiring stories of individual citizens like Magdalena Maleeva in Bulgaria, Kurt Gramlich in Germany, Kristine Garklava in Latvia, or István Dőry in Hungary.

This very short introduction to the diversity of the ENCI cases the EnergyPROSPECTS team mapped is a good illustration of the varied landscape of energy citizenship in Europe. Currently, we are performing the analysis of the 596 cases as well as starting a detailed study of 40 cases carefully selected in EnergyPROSPECTS partner countries to learn about the achievements, the conditioning factors and the development of energy citizenship. To keep up-to-date about our outputs based on these, you can subscribe to our newsletter and follow our social media sites to learn about our progress and publications. Among others, you can expect the following to be available in the coming months:

  • country profile reports on ENCI in project partner countries,
  • PESTEL analysis on factors supporting and hindering ENCI at the EU level and in partner countries,
  • interactive, searchable online database of the 596 cases,
  • ENCI cases examples on our social media,
  • and many more.

Edina Vadovics, GDI