REsCO- Transformation of the energy system towards sustainability focusing on community-based activities

Start of Project 12/2018
End of Project 03/2022

The willingness of private households to invest in green technologies and green electricity seems to depend not only on costs and environmental motivation but also on social norms and the social environment. Therefore, the project investigates the relationship between social factors and the use of green technologies. The study aims to generate new insights into how private households can be motivated to participate more actively in the trans­for­mation of the energy system. At the same time, REsCO contributes to a better under­standing of the dynamics of diffusion processes.

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Project results

In the project, three surveys were conducted, which focused on 1) the predictors of willingness to participate in a local energy community, 2) the characteristics that are particularly important when choosing between different community solutions, and 3) whether and if so, why individual privately-owned solutions are preferred to community solutions by homeowners. Initial results show, among other things, that homeowners generally do not have a consistently higher preference for investing in individual systems over energy communities, and that the preference for combined electricity and heat supply is strongest. The relevance of non-financial factors in decision-making was confirmed. Previous experiences of good acquaintances (i.e. recommendations) also play a major role. Based on the results of the surveys, possible transformation paths for energy communities are currently being identified and analyzed with regard to macroeconomic effects.

Illustration of project results

Figure 1 shows first results of the study con­cerning potential predictors of an inten­tion to participate in an energy community. Psycho­logi­cal factors illustrating the local, com­mu­nity dimension of energy com­mu­ni­ties, name­ly social identity (collective efficacy, group norm, group identification), functional and emotional place attachment as well as sense of community are taken into con­sid­era­tion. Results highlight connections of social identity and sense of community with in­ten­tion to participate. No significant relationship was observed between place attachment and intention to participate in an energy community.

Main Findings

  • The results show that social needs, social capital, social norms, social identity and environ­mental awareness significantly in­flu­ence the willing­ness to participate in en­er­gy communities. Therefore, in­for­ma­tion campaigns should not only address en­vi­ron­­men­tal issues, but also aspects such as the sense of community that is created through parti­cipation in energy com­mu­nities.
  • It became clear that positive impulses can be ge­nerated through the promotion of energy communities, especially with regard to the involvement of tenants in the energy tran­sition and with regard to the heating tran­sition. Therefore, the spread of energy communities should be supported, even if this is associated with additional costs.
  • It must be taken into account that with an increase in self-supply or shared energy supply, grid fees, levies and tax revenues fall away, while the need for subsidies increases. Accordingly, counter-financing measures are ne­cessary.


Broska, L. H. (2021): It’s all about community: On the interplay of social capital, social needs, and environmental concern in sustainable community action. Energy Research & Social Science 79, 102165.

Broska, L. H., Vögele, S., Shamon, H., Wittenberg, I. (2022):
On the Future(s) of Energy Communities in the German Energy Transition: A Derivation of Transformation Pathways. Sustainability, 14, 3169.

Wittenberg, I., Broska, L. H., Vögele, S., Shamon, H. (2019):
Human Behavior and the Energy Transition – Explanatory Approaches in Psychology, Economics, and Sociology. SSRN Working Paper.

Broska, L. H., Shamon, H., Vögele, S., Wittenberg, I. (in progress):
Energy communities in neighborhoods: a promising alternative to individual solutions for homeowners?

Wittenberg, I. (in progress):
Collective options of energy transition on a local level: Psychological drivers of intention to participate in energy communities in neighborhoods.