Building on user and grassroots innovation literature, we explore user innovations in five Dutch civic energy communities. Less attention has been paid to the interplay of social, symbolic and technological innovations that seems to be at the heart of many civic energy communities. In this paper, we shed light on this interplay, and explore the activities of civic energy communities as configurational user innovations, i.e. creating user-designed arrangements of loosely related sets of components. Our analysis shows that configurational work combines off-the-shelf technologies with novel technical and non-technical ideas, such as business models for local energy provision, rather than endeavor clear-cut changes to existing devices. Such configurational work is deeply entangled with learning processes at the community level, whereby an evolving technical identity as well as various community building activities provide a growing network of resources as necessary context for implementation of user innovations.
- Civic energy communities
- User communities
- User innovation
- User-led technological change