Harnessing citizen investment in community-based energy initiatives: A discrete choice experiment across ten European countries

Hangjian Wu, James Carroll, Eleanor Denny* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
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In recent years, energy initiatives (such as energy cooperatives) have been expanding across European countries to meet the increasing demand for innovative solutions to renewable energy generation and distribution. However, research exploring citizens' acceptance of these new business models remains scarce, especially from the perspective of citizen investors. In this paper, we examine citizens' willingness to invest in energy projects through energy cooperatives and energy crowdfunding platforms. Using a discrete choice experiment with a sample of approximately 2000 EU citizens, we contribute to the growing literature on citizen investment in the energy sector by comparing citizens' stated engagement across ten European countries, many of which have not previously been examined in the literature. Our results provide evidence that citizens are willing to invest in renewable energy through energy cooperatives or crowdfunders. Investment returns and environmental benefits are important factors considered in making investment decisions, demonstrating both the financial and non-financial motivations of citizen renewable investors. The importance of several governance attributes, such as minimum amount of investment or the type of issuers in the case of civic crowdfunding, are also highlighted. Our findings also suggest the existence of a moderate level of preference heterogeneity regarding, e.g., carbon emission reductions, project location and minimum investment across different surveyed countries and different social groups (e.g., age, prior experience with energy initiatives) for both business models, which provides considerable implications for the generalisability of energy initiatives to different populations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102552
Number of pages14
JournalEnergy Research & Social Science
Early online date15 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme [grant agreement No. 837758] via the SocialRES project. The sole responsibility for the content of this study lies with the authors. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union. We acknowledge the assistance from Lake Constance Foundation in Germany, Energética in Spain, I-ENER in France, REGEA in Croatia, Goparity in Portugal, and Abundance in the UK. This work was presented at the BEHAVE conference in April 2021, the IEA conference in May 2021, and the IAEE conference in June 2021, and we are thankful for the comments from these conferences which helps us to refine this study.


  • Discrete choice experiment
  • Energy cooperative
  • Crowdfunding
  • Energy initiative
  • Renewable energy
  • Energy transition


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