Financing grassroots innovation diffusion pathways: the case of UK community energy

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This paper explores how finance can better support the diffusion of Grassroots Innovations (GIs), community-led solutions for net-zero transitions. We examine the case of UK community energy (CE), across three ‘diffusion pathways’: niche replication (growth in the number of projects), individual scaling (growth in an organisation's scale) and collective diffusion (a confederation of GIs). We investigate each pathway through analysis of a nationwide survey, interviews and four case studies. We find that while finance currently supports replication of small-scale CE projects, the incompatibility between GIs and the wider finance meta-regime inhibits individual scaling. The UK CE sector has responded with collective diffusion, via business group intermediaries; attracting greater but still insufficient finance. Consequently, for GIs to diffuse effectively, they must be supported to translate across both sectoral regimes (e.g. energy) and broader meta-regimes (e.g. finance). This paper contributes to theory on the role of finance in sociotechnical transitions and the role of intermediaries in GI diffusion.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100679
JournalEnvironmental Innovation and Societal Transitions
Early online date30 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023


  • Sociotechnical transitions
  • Grassroots innovations
  • Community energy
  • Intermediaries
  • Community finance
  • Finance


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