Insights from pioneers in renewable energy (INSPIRE)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Sch of Geography, Earth & Env Sciences


Renewable energy technologies have experienced widely differing innovation and diffusion trends in the UK. Especially for smaller scale technologies, early adoption and uptake is often dependent on the energetic efforts of pioneering individuals. Although these individuals are clearly highly entrepreneurial in spirit, some are operating through or within organisational settings that are not solely or primarily profit-driven. Subsequently, their initiatives, which may be driven by a range of different social, economic and environmental motivations, are often broadly referred to as ‘social enterprises’.

The main aim of this fellowship is to develop a better understanding of how such novel renewable energy initiatives are conceived, developed and potentially mainstreamed. Research during the fellowship will focus on

  • Mapping the current role of social enterprises in the provision of renewable energy

  • Unpacking the motivations, visions and actions of pioneers in renewable energy

  • Evaluating the environmental performance of some of these initiatives over time in the context of learning-by-doing at the individual and organisational level

  • Exploring the potential of such bottom-up initiatives to help meet environmental and social targets at the local, regional and national level.   



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