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Trust and community: Exploring the meanings, contexts and dynamics of community renewable energy

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date06/2010
JournalEnergy Policy
Journal number6
Volume38
Number of pages9
Pages2655-2663
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Community renewable energy projects have recently been promoted and supported in the UK by government policy. A community approach, it is argued in the rhetoric of both government and grassroots activists will change the experience and outcomes of the energy sustainable technology implementation. In this paper, we consider how interpersonal and social trust is implicated in the different meanings given to community in RE programmes and projects, and in the qualities and outcomes that are implied or assumed by taking a community approach. We examine how these meanings play out in examples of projects on the ground, focusing on two contrasting cases in which the relationships between those involved locally have exhibited different patterns of cohesiveness and fracture. We argue that trust does have a necessary part to play in the contingencies and dynamics of community RE projects and in the outcomes they can achieve. Trust between local people and groups that take projects forward is part of the package of conditions which can help projects work. Whilst trust may therefore be functional for the development of community RE and potentially can be enhanced by the adoption of a community approach, this cannot be either assured or assumed under the wide diversity of contexts, conditions and arrangements under which community RE is being pursued and practiced. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.