Energy democracy, public participation, and support for local energy system change in Canada

Fiander, J., Walker, C., Rowlands, I.H., Devine-Wright, P., Wilson, C. ORCID:, Soutar, I., & Gupta, R. (2024). Energy democracy, public participation, and support for local energy system change in Canada. Energy Research & Social Science 113 e103526. 10.1016/j.erss.2024.103526.

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Project: The impacts of digitalised daily life on climate change (iDODDLE, H2020 101003083)


In the face of climate change and associated energy system change, there is a growing literature and more general recognition of the ‘four Ds’ (decarbonization, decentralization, digitalization, and democratization). Yet there has been very little quantitative work that analyzes public perceptions of these changes. Utilizing data from a Canada-wide, nationally representative survey (n = 941), this study conducted provincial and regional assessments to spatially explore the public's views of moves toward innovative local energy system change through the development of what we call Local Smart Grids (LSGs). Through descriptive statistics and t-tests, we sought to answer three main questions: i) To what extent does the public support energy democracy via new local energy systems? ii) What does the public desire in terms of participation? and iii) What motivates the public to participate? We find overall support for energy democracy across Canada, yet varied support among provinces and regions. Canadians seem to want to participate in moves toward energy democracy, although we found a strong preference for more passive participatory actions. Additionally, support and a desire to participate is predominantly motivated by environmental factors, including combating climate change, with community and social motivations playing a secondary role, followed by financial motivations. These findings, some of the first of their kind in the realm of energy democracy in Canada, provide useful insights relevant to scholars, policymakers, and practitioners working on LSG implementation as well as others with an interest in socio-technical innovation and energy system change.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Energy democracy; Energy transitions; Local smart grids; Planning; Public support; Smart local energy systems
Research Programs: Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE)
Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE) > Sustainable Service Systems (S3)
Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE) > Transformative Institutional and Social Solutions (TISS)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2024 08:52
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2024 14:16

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