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Tangled transitions: Exploring the emergence of local electricity exchange in France, Switzerland and Great Britain

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  • Marfuga Iskandarova, University of Sussex
  • ,
  • Anne Lorène Vernay, Grenoble Ecole de Management
  • ,
  • Jörg Musiolik, Zurich University of Applied Sciences
  • ,
  • Leticia Müller, Zurich University of Applied Sciences
  • ,
  • Benjamin K. Sovacool

Local electricity exchange is often praised for its ability to empower consumers and benefit communities. In this paper, we investigate and compare the development of local electricity exchange practices in three European countries: France, Switzerland, and Great Britain. We ask: how do local electricity exchange practices and markets vary across national contexts? What are their dynamics of ownership and consolidation, if any? What areas of contestation or disagreement emerge? To answer these questions, we first briefly define and conceptualize local electricity exchange and its categories before explicating our mixed methods research design consisting of document analysis, 40 original expert interviews across the three countries, and observational data derived from seven meetings and events. These comparative cases reveal the complexity and variation of the local electricity exchange phenomenon across our three national contexts, how such acts of decentralization in turn (and perhaps unpredictably) consolidate power among incumbent actors, and how local electricity exchanges are prone to significant contestation and disagreement. Moreover, they reveal competing dynamics of centralization and shifting forms of ownership. We conclude by noting that (i) local electricity exchange has as much potential to cement conventional actors and power relations in the sector as it does to support new actors or transform power relations; (ii) approaches to local electricity exchange vary considerably across national contexts and are strongly linked with institutional frameworks and policy regimes; and (iii) the future merits of local electricity exchange are prone to great uncertainty and contestation.

TidsskriftTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
StatusUdgivet - jul. 2022

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 837498 , SONNET (Social Innovation in Energy Transitions).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s)

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