Energy cooperatives in Germany – an example of successful alternative economies?

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Contributed date

May 16, 2020 - 12:10am

Critical Commentary

This paper expands on the existing artifacts I've uploaded that promote community renewable energy initiatives (CREs) as ways to subvert traditional power structures and promote greater democratization within the struggle for energy justice by positing new terminology - "alternative economies" - as both a framework and descriptor for integrating CREs into existing energy systems. I especially appreciate the examination into how the existing German energy environment supported the development and integration of these energy co-ops, providing them a portion of the "equal footing" promoted in existing EU policy for CREs. They also introduce the "Gibson-Graham" framework for diverse economies, better providing a tangible game plan for the make-up of future CREs, rather than just a theoretical framework. No literature I've read up to this point dives into the nitty-gritty of business models/structural plans of CREs as this one does in accordance to the Gibson-Graham; multiple articles of which could provide valuable holistic insight to the concepts in this paper. That being said, the framework talks about five dimensions for alternative economic development - "namely labour, enterprise, transactions, property and finance" - of which the authors add another dimension, geography, in order to better factor in the need for specific regional embeddedness within CREs. This lens with which to view CREs with provides them greater political legitimacy and governmental bargaining power, viewing them not as simply a community initiative but a collective of organized individuals rallying under a commonly-beneficial economic system.


They also apply basic fundamental principles of collective self-reliance, establishing that cooperatives are operated under three basic principles; member-orientation (cooperatives are in place to address the particular economic, social, or cultural issues that the members are facing), identity (members are both the consumers and producers), and democracy (equal representation and consideration for all members). The first of these principles - member-orientation - attempts to combat the very topic of this course - energy vulnerability. By attempting to address the issues of the members involved, they inherently build in a combative stance towards uneven energy distribution & energy vulnerability. By conceptualizing "resolving socio-political issues of those involved" as a tenet of CREs, it can better inform how to integrate concepts of energy justice (and, thus, reducing energy vulnerability) into the emerging infrastructure.


Klagge, B., & Meister, T. (2018). Energy cooperatives in Germany - an example of successful alternative economies? Local Environment23(7), 697–716.



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Cite as

B. Klagge and T. Meister, "Energy cooperatives in Germany – an example of successful alternative economies?", contributed by Cam LaPorte, The Energy Rights Project, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 16 May 2020, accessed 19 April 2024.–-example-successful-alternative-economies