Legal Perspectives on Bottom-up Approaches
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Marjan Peeters and Thomas Schomerus
Chapter 12: Local investment schemes for renewable energy: A financial perspective
Local community investment in renewable energy projects has been high on the political agenda in Germany in recent years. It is especially discussed with respect to the development of wind energy projects. There are several reasons for engaging citizens financially in renewable energy projects, with two motivations recurring in the discussion: First, it is presented as a measure to minimize the risk of a lack of acceptance, even if the direct relation between acceptance and participation is contested by some authors. Secondly, projects owned by local citizens are said to offer higher profit in the region. No matter how the relations are explained between local investment on the one hand, and acceptance, regional profit creation processes, or concepts such as legitimacy, efficiency or effectiveness on the other, these motivations are major political arguments for local investment schemes in the current German context. Yet, the term “local investment scheme” is hardly ever defined, but used loosely, so as to include many different types of projects or companies. Building on previous work by the author, this chapter therefore gives a brief outline of what might be called local investment schemes in a proper sense (or “community energy schemes”) and local investment schemes in a broader sense (or “mere financial participation”). The chapter aims to present an overview of different forms of community ownership and other forms of financial participation in the context of the German Energiewende (Section 2).
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