Main content area

In it for the money, the environment, or the community? Motives for being involved in community energy initiatives

Sloot, Daniel, Jans, Lise, Steg, Linda
Global environmental change 2019 v.57 pp. 101936
energy, environmental protection, renewable energy sources
Community energy initiatives can foster a sustainable energy transition by promoting sustainable energy behaviour in the communities in which they are embedded. This raises the question of what motivates people to become involved in these initiatives. We investigated the importance of financial, environmental, and communal motives for initiative involvement. We propose that communal motives (i.e., being involved in one’s local community) may be related to initiative involvement, as community energy initiatives not only aim to promote sustainable energy behaviour but also enable people to be involved in their community. Across three studies, respondents rated financial and environmental motives as more important than communal motives for their involvement in community energy initiatives. Yet, environmental and communal motives were uniquely related to initiative involvement, while financial motives were not. The discrepancy between which motives people rate as important and which motives actually relate to their initiative involvement suggests that financial motives are an overrated motive, while communal motives are an underrated motive for involvement in community energy initiatives. Our results suggest that targeting communal motives may be an additional way to enhance involvement in community energy initiatives and foster sustainable behaviour among people, who may not otherwise be interested in environmental protection.