Practice and theory have proven the relevance of energy co-operatives for civic participation in the energy turnaround. However, due to a still low awareness and changing regulation, there seems an unexploited potential of utilizing the legal form 'co-operative' in this context. The aim of this study is therefore to investigate the crowdfunding implementation in the business model of energy co-operatives in order to cope with the mentioned challenges. Based on a theoretical framework, we derive a Business Model Innovation (BMI) through crowdfunding including synergies and differences. A qualitative study design, particularly a multiple-case study of energy co-operatives, was chosen to prove the BMI and to reveal barriers. The results show that although most co-operatives are not familiar with crowdfunding, there is strong potential in opening up predominantly local structures to a broader group of members. Building on this, equity-based crowdfunding is revealed to be suitable for energy co-operatives as BMI and to accompany other challenges in the same way.
Keywords: Business model innovation; Crowdfunding; Energy co-operative; Renewable energy; Sustainable management.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.