City Hub in Arnhem (The Netherlands) : How to establish and support inclusive energy communities

Blogpost by Ami Crowther, PhD at ARU

One of the researcher teams was partnered with the municipality of Arnhem to conduct a knowledge brokerage activity related to energy communities. The municipality of Arnhem has a commitment to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and reduce its CO2 emissions by 61% by 2030. As part of these ambitions, they are interested in the role of energy communities and how to ensure that residents are able to engage with the opportunities available. Through the SSH CENTRE Knowledge Brokerage Programme, the researcher team – Shary, Rihab, Maria, Pepijn, Nathan – focused on the inclusivity of energy communities.

During the workshop in Arnhem, participants discussed the different opportunities and challenges associated with energy communities, and how to ensure that these opportunities are designed in a way that means no one is left behind. The day was full of insightful discussions, with each of the representatives from the different European municipalities and organisations sharing their personal experiences – including both stories of success and the challenges they are currently experiencing.

One of the workshop sessions involved a serious game, where workshop participants were transported to Energyville and given a ‘persona’ profile card. Over the course of an hour, the participants had to reflect on how the context and characteristics of their given persona impacts their ability to participate in different energy scenarios and then consider what would support them in doing so going forwards. By prompting participants to think about energy communities from the perspective of someone else, it led to empathetic and insightful reflections on how to frame and implement activities supporting energy transitions. At the end of the session, workshop participants commented on how much they enjoyed the serious game and one of the participants asked for a copy of the game so they could play it with their colleagues!

The workshop discussions highlighted the complexity of developing energy communities and the importance of thinking about the different contexts and characteristics of people when designing initiatives. By bringing together the different perspectives of researchers, municipality representatives and organisations from across Europe it provided the space for meaningful discussions and opportunities for learning in relation to inclusive energy communities.

Ami Crowther is Postdoctoral Research Fellow  at Global Sustainability Institute (Cambridge University) and PhD in Human Geography at the University of Manchester. 

This blog post is part of a series of reflections about our training events held in different European cities.