Thinking, doing, organising: Prefiguring just and sustainable energy systems via collective prosumer ecosystems in Europe

Julia M. Wittmayer*, Inês Campos, Flor Avelino, Donal Brown, Borna Doračić, Maria Fraaije, Swantje Gährs, Arthur Hinsch, Silvia Assalini, Timon Becker, Esther Marín-González, Lars Holstenkamp, Robert Bedoić, Neven Duić, Sem Oxenaar, Tomislav Pukšec

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


This article positions collective renewable energy prosumerism as a social movement that engages in energy system transformation. Collective renewable energy prosumer initiatives engage in ‘prefigurative’ work through their discursive framings (ways of thinking), their activities (ways of doing) and their understanding and enactment of social relations (ways of organising). The core of this article is a comparative analysis of the prefigurative work of 13 collective prosumers from 7 European countries (Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, United Kingdom). The article discusses their contributions to energy system transformation, including renewable energy production, different mechanisms for involving citizens, local value creation, and the degree of desired and actual collaboration and networking within broader prosumer ecosystems. We then discuss these contributions against societal discourses and expectations towards prosumerism, such as energy democracy, energy justice, and environmental sustainability and decarbonisation. This reveals three tensions: 1) a focus on decarbonisation but not on broader environmental problems, 2) the involvement of certain people and not of others, and 3) the building of prosumer eco-systems while ignoring incumbency. Future research avenues are formulated to conclude the article.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102425
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 764056, PROSEU. We would like to thank our collaborators in the different PROSEU Living Labs and in the initiatives for the continued cooperation during the project period. We also would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers of ERSS for their critical and constructive engagement with our work.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s)


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