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Dissecting communities of renewable energy: a comparative investigation in New Aquitaine (France)

Claudia Colombarolli & Luca Storti (2022)

Review of Social Economy, Online first, pp. 1-28

Abstract. Market liberalization in the energy sectors has created several regulatory gaps that ‘heterodox forms’ of economic experiences – such as Community Renewable Energy Organizations (hereinafter, CREOs) – can fill. CREOs are cooperatives or corporations, financing the installation of energy devices. But how do CREOs establish themselves? What are the different ‘social features’ that CREOs assume over time? To deal with these questions, the paper investigates several CREOs through comparative case studies located in the region of New Aquitaine (France). With this aim, we argue that it is useful to cross-fertilize two streams of the literature of economic sociology: the first is the theory of conventions; the latter is that of embeddedness. We will show that CREOs assume distinctive ‘social features’ based on different aggregations of conventions driving social actions, the interaction patterns between the participants and the interactions with local institutions.

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