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New clean energy communities in a changing European energy system – NEWCOMERS (2019-2022)

In its most recent Energy Union package, the European Union puts citizens at the core of the clean energy transitions.

Beyond policy, disruptive innovations in energy sectors are challenging the traditional business model of large energy utilities. One such disruptive, social innovation is the emergence of new clean energy communities (‘newcomers’). The possible benefits of these ‘newcomers’ for their members and for society at large are still emerging and their potential to support the goals of the Energy Union is unclear.

By taking an interdisciplinary approach and through employing co-creation strategies, in which research participants are actively involved in the design and implementation of the research, the NEWCOMERS project will deliver practical recommendations about how the European Union as well as national and local governments can support new clean energy communities to help them flourish and unfold their potential benefits for citizens and the Energy Union.

The NEWCOMERS (New clean energy communities in a changing European energy system) project aims to explore and evaluate a variety of different new clean energy communities. At least ten case study communities are voluntarily involved. They represent social innovations along dimensions like:

  • citizen engagement
  • value creation and 
  • learning

To meet the challenge of decarbonisation, European energy systems have to change. Newcomers provide much needed social innovation. They:

  • combine the benefits of community energy such as participation and democratic decision-making processes with
  • the benefits of self-sustained, revenue-generating business models.

These have the potential to be scaled up and broaden the target group of EU citizens that actively participate in the clean energy transitions.

The Environmental Policy Analysis Department (EPA) of the IVM is responsible for the theoretical framing of the project by using elements of polycentric governance theory and socio-technical theory among others, for working with the Dutch case study communities, and for analysing results from the consortium.

The project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

Contact information: Dr Nicolien van der Grijp or Dr Julia Blasch

Project e-mail:

For more info, please visit

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Twitter: @NEWCOMERS_H2020