MCC researcher Arwen Colell receives the Bavarian Energy Award

She coordinates joint learning on the German energy transition in the Ariadne project. Her doctoral thesis shows: decentralised electricity and heat supply can enhance social cohesion.

Awarded: Arwen Colell from the Policy Unit of the MCC. | Photo: MCC


Taking climate protection into your own hands: in roughly 1,000 “community energy projects” in Germany alone, citizens are assuming entrepreneurial responsibility for sustainable electricity and heat supply in their place of residence, accounting for about 40 percent of installed renewables-based power capacity nationwide. The scientific literature on the subject has so far mostly dealt with technology and financing, but such projects may act as a binding agent for social cohesion, too. Arwen Colell, a researcher at the Berlin-based climate research institute MCC (Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change), has examined this in her doctoral thesis – and is being honoured for it today with the Bavarian Energy Award of the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs.

As part of her dissertation completed at the Technical University of Munich, Colell evaluated experiences in Germany, Scotland, and Denmark. Her scientific work shows that citizen projects can become an integral part of the local community through shared values, common knowledge, and common symbols. Of course, local energy projects also need to raise the necessary funds – but in the end, as is systematically demonstrated here, successful implementation depends at least as much on these soft, non-material factors.

Over the next three years, the researcher and member of the MCC Policy Unit, who as a student co-founded an energy cooperative in Berlin herself, will play an important role in supporting the development of a sustainable electricity and heat supply. In the Copernicus project Ariadne, which involves 26 institutes, she will coordinate the "Green Paper/White Paper Process": joint learning of science, policy makers, and society, based on comprehensive research on the German energy transition.

Further information:
Arwen Colell (publication pending): Alternating Current – Social Innovation in Community Energy. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.