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Exploring Motivations for Participation in Different Modes of Urban Community Energy Development in Ontario, Canada

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posted on 24.05.2021, 07:22 by Pallavi Roy
Urban energy systems are facing disruption at the same time as cities are increasingly focusing on sustainability. Community energy projects are increasingly gaining attention as systems that can deliver on the promise of sustainable growth and may even serve as a model for the future of energy planning, especially in an urban context. With the decreasing cost of modular generation technologies, it is increasingly feasible to generate local energy in urban areas. Not only is there potential for an economic benefit, but people are also empowered from being end of the line consumers to ‘prosumers’. This paper explores the landscape for urban community energy projects with community involvement in ownership and management. Different models of ownership and management are examined and a spectrum of citizen participation in community energy is described. Various motivations for participation in community energy projects are identified. Interviews with representatives of key stakeholder groups were conducted to assess the theoretical foundation of the research and to refine a survey given to 270 residents of households located in the City of Toronto. The results were used to determine consumer/prosumer choices towards participation in local community generation and utilisation of renewable energy. This study shows that there is heterogeneity in the ways citizens can participate in community energy in an urban context. Relying on principal component factor analysis to identify the inferential variables associated with four motivating factors, namely Financial, Social Norms, Environmental and Community Concerns, and Trust in Technology, correlations with certain descriptive variables were examined. Stepwise multiple regression was used to identify respective models of causality between these motivating factors and three common models of community energy participation. The analysis shows that most residents in a Canadian urban centre prefer a more passive participatory role and that the financial factor remains the principle motivator. The results have implications for urban energy planning including the need for more utility and industry collaboration with urban community members.





Master of Applied Science


Environmental Applied Science and Management

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type