15:00 - 16:00
Open to all
Time: 3-4 pm. Hybrid: in-person in Weston Seminar Room (2.49) in DAB + online in Zoom


Trevelyan Wing
Baltic Fellow, Cambridge Centre for Geopolitics | Centre Researcher, CEENRG, Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge
A transition from below? The role of citizen and community initiatives in Germany’s renewable energy revolution

Abstract: This presentation explores the role of citizen/community initiatives in advancing Germany’s ‘Energiewende’ (alternatively translated as ‘energy transition’ or even ‘energy revolution’). Situating the transition in its historical context – rooted in the social movements of the 1970s – it examines how grassroots pressures prompted federal policy change, triggering complementary bottom-up/top-down dynamics that have facilitated a dramatic expansion of renewables nationwide, with over 50% of total installed renewable power generation capacity citizen-owned by the early 2010s. Changes to the Energiewende’s legal/regulatory frameworks are analyzed, as subsequent governments sought to control the growth of renewables and adjust the transition’s building blocks to prioritize market-oriented instruments, despite stiff opposition from below. Drawing on over 100 semi-structured interviews conducted with stakeholders involved in the Energiewende, among diverse other sources, this presentation sheds further light on the impact of ‘energy democracy’ initiatives in the evolution of this multidecadal transformation. Here, it contributes a fresh perspective regarding the interrelated nexus of sustained grassroots action, evolving policy, and shifting sociopolitical realities that form the context in which Germany’s Energiewende has been (re)launched, reformed, and reimagined over the decades.