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Financing the Civic Energy Sector: How financial institutions affect ownership models in Germany and the United Kingdom

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5–15
JournalEnergy Research & Social Science
Early online date18 Dec 2015
StatePublished - Feb 2016


This paper examines the relations between financing
institutions and more local ownership structures for energy provision.
This research defines municipal and civil society structures involved in
energy provision as the 'Civic Energy Sector'. It argues that the
financial institutions of nations are key enabling institutions for this
sector to contribute to a low carbon energy transition. The path of
development of these financial institutions helps to shape the ownership
structures and technology choices of energy systems and futures in
different nations. This paper presents findings from case analysis
comparing the United Kingdom's latent civic energy sector, with the
expansion of this sector in Germany. Using an institutional economics
framing, the paper demonstrates the importance of the German local
banking sector in facilitating civic ownership structures in that
country. In contrast, the neo-liberal, market-led financial institutions
in the UK, reinforce energy pathways less reliant on civic ownership
models. Hence, the forms of low carbon energy transition being pursued in
these countries are constrained by path dependence of institutions both
within and beyond the energy sector.

    Research areas

  • civic energy sector, institutional economics, energy transitions, energy ownership

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