Consumer (Co-)Ownership and Behaviour: Economic Experiments as a Tool for Analysis

  • Özgür YildizEmail author
  • Julian Sagebiel


Across Europe and worldwide, the sustainable transition of energy systems from fossil fuels towards renewables and higher energy efficiency led to the emergence of business models involving citizens. This involvement included participation in renewable energy project planning and financing with self-consumption having either a subordinate or no importance at all as well as business models that explicitly foster consumer (co-)ownership that confers ownership rights in renewable projects to prosumers in a local or regional area. Proponents of these business models have identified positive aspects such as changes in individual consumption behaviour towards improved energy efficiency through the assistance and advice on the adoption of environmental friendly technologies and energy efficiency measures. However, methodological concerns on these results remain as a clear examination of the causal effects of belonging to consumer (co-)owned energy initiative on energy use requires collecting experimental or quasi-experimental data which has not been done so far. The aim of this chapter therefore is twofold: First, we provide an overview on existing studies related to the behaviour of members of consumer (co-)owned models (CCOM). Second, starting from this short review, we will assess the potential contribution of experimental methods for the analysis of the behaviour of CCOM members and give recommendations for further experimental research.


  1. Akasiadis, C., Savvakis, N., Mamakos, M., Hoppe, T., Coenen, F. H., Chalkiadakis, G., et al. (2017). Analyzing statistically the energy consumption and production patterns of European REScoop members. Discussion paper presented at 9th International Exergy, Energy and Environment Symposium, IEEES 2017—Split, Croatia., accessed 17 February 2018.
  2. Bauwens, T. (2016). Explaining the diversity of motivations behind community renewable energy. Energy Policy, 93, 278–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bauwens, T., & Eyre, N. (2017). Exploring the links between community-based governance and sustainable energy use: Quantitative evidence from Flanders. Ecological Economics, 137, 163–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Becker, S., & Naumann, M. (2017). Energy democracy: Mapping the debate on energy alternatives. Geography Compass, 11(8), e12321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ben-Akiva, M. E., & Lerman, S. R. (1985). Discrete choice analysis: Theory and application to travel demand (Vol. 9). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bomberg, E., & McEwen, N. (2012). Mobilizing community energy. Energy Policy, 51, 435–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Camerer, C. F. (2003). Behavioral game theory experiments in strategic interaction. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Costa, D. L., & Kahn, M. E. (2013). Energy conservation “nudges” and environmentalist ideology: Evidence from a randomized residential electricity field experiment. Journal of the European Economic Association, 11(3), 680–702.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dóci, G., & Vasileiadou, E. (2015). “Let’s do it ourselves” individual motivations for investing in renewables at community level. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 49, 41–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fisher, R. A. (1937). The design of experiments. Edinburgh and London: Oliver and Boyd.Google Scholar
  11. Gleerup, M., Larsen, A., Leth-Petersen, S., & Togeby, M. (2010). The effect of feedback by text message (SMS) and email on household electricity consumption: Experimental evidence. The Energy Journal, 113–132.Google Scholar
  12. Haney, A. B., & Pollitt, M. G. (2013). New models of public ownership in energy. International Review of Applied Economics, 27(2), 174–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Höfer, H. H., & Rommel, J. (2015). Internal governance and member investment behavior in energy cooperatives: An experimental approach. Utilities Policy, 36, 52–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Holstenkamp, L., Centgraf, S., Dorniok, D., Kahla, F., Masson, T., Müller, J. R., Radtke, J., & Yildiz, Ö. (2017). Bürgerenergiegesellschaften in Deutschland. In L. Holstenkamp & J. Radtke (Eds.), Handbuch Energiewende und Partizipation (pp. 1057–1076). Wiesbaden: Springer.Google Scholar
  15. Holstenkamp, L., & Kahla, F. (2016). What are community energy companies trying to accomplish? An empirical investigation of investment motives in the German case. Energy Policy, 97, 112–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Knoefel, J., Sagebiel, J., Yildiz, Ö., Müller, J. R., & Rommel, J. (2018). A consumer perspective on corporate governance in the energy transition: Evidence from a discrete choice experiment in Germany. Energy Economics (Article in press). Scholar
  17. Koirala, B. P., Koliou, E., Friege, J., Hakvoort, R. A., & Herder, P. M. (2016). Energetic communities for community energy: A review of key issues and trends shaping integrated community energy systems. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 56, 722–744.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lancaster, K. J. (1966). A new approach to consumer theory. Journal of Political Economy, 74(2), 132–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. McFadden, D. (1974). Conditional logit analysis of qualitative choice behavior in Zembreka. Frontiers in Economics, 105–142.Google Scholar
  20. Radtke, J. (2014). A closer look inside collaborative action: Civic engagement and participation in community energy initiatives. People, Place & Policy Online, 8(3), 235–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Rogers, J. C., Simmons, E. A., Convery, I., & Weatherall, A. (2008). Public perceptions of opportunities for community-based renewable energy projects. Energy Policy, 36(11), 4217–4226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Rommel, J., Radtke, J., von Jorck, G., Mey, F., & Yildiz, Ö. (2018). Community renewable energy at a crossroads: A think piece on degrowth, technology, and the democratization of the German energy system. Journal of Cleaner Production, 197 (Part 2), 1746-1753.Google Scholar
  23. Rommel, J., Sagebiel, J., & Müller, J. R. (2016). Quality uncertainty and the market for renewable energy: Evidence from German consumers. Renewable Energy, 94, 106–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Roth, L., Lowitzsch, J., Yildiz, Ö., & Hashani, A. (2018). Does (co-)ownership in renewables matter for an electricity consumer’s demand flexibility? Empirical evidence from Germany. Energy Research & Social Science, 46, 169-182. Google Scholar
  25. Sagebiel, J., Müller, J. R., & Rommel, J. (2014). Are consumers willing to pay more for electricity from cooperatives? Results from an online choice experiment in Germany. Energy Research & Social Science, 2, 90–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Salm, S., Hille, S. L., & Wüstenhagen, R. (2016). What are retail investors’ risk-return preferences towards renewable energy projects? A choice experiment in Germany. Energy Policy, 97, 310–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Sorrell, S. (2007). Improving the evidence base for energy policy: The role of systematic reviews. Energy Policy, 35(3), 1858–1871.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Yildiz, Ö. (2014). Financing renewable energy infrastructures via financial citizen participation—The case of Germany. Renewable Energy, 68, 677–685.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Yildiz, Ö., Rommel, J., Debor, S., Holstenkamp, L., Mey, F., Müller, J. R., et al. (2015). Renewable energy cooperatives as gatekeepers or facilitators? Recent developments in Germany and a multidisciplinary research agenda. Energy Research & Social Science, 6, 59–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.inter 3 Institut für RessourcenmanagementBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, Chair of Environmental and Land EconomicsTechnische Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

Personalised recommendations