Does Energy Community Membership Change Sustainable Attitudes and Behavioral Patterns? Empirical Evidence from Community Wind Energy in Germany
Community energy is seen as a helping hand for local, decentralized energy transition. Besides the main goal of supporting the community-friendly and socially acceptable development of renewable energies, the hope is also that a pro-environmental influence on sustainability behavior will be triggered when joining a community energy project. An analysis of a survey among 16 community energy projects in Germany, with 565 completed questionnaires, shows that a certain part of the members pays more attention to their energy behavior and develop a more positive attitude towards a decentralized energy transition and citizen participation after joining the community energy project. Therefore, we can empirically support that climate protection projects, such as community energy, influence pro-environmental attitudes and behavior, but this does not apply equally to all population groups. Members with higher income and stronger interest in returns are less likely to change their behavior. Based on these findings, we recommend the development of community energy policies that are more responsive to differences in social structure and address both privileged and underprivileged groups in a sophisticated way using specific offers and modes of involvement within the associations.
Published in: Energies, 10.3390/en15030822, MDPI