Normative Alignment, Institutional Resilience and Shifts in Legal Governance of the Energy Transition

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In Europe, the energy transition by means of a governance shift through liberalization is followed by a transition and shift towards community energy initiatives, with a particular view of supporting the demand for greater energy sustainability. What institutional legal consequences, as constraints and opportunities for lawful behaviour, follow from a shift in legal governance towards facilitating resilient community energy services? This conceptual article looks for an answer to this question by combining governance theory with Ostrom’s IAD-framework and Institutional Legal Theory. A key aspect is understanding normative alignment (as institutional conduciveness and resilience) in relation to the possible shift from the current institutional environment of regulated energy market to that of a community energy network. The heuristic and analytical (design) relevance of the approach is illustrated with two policy examples contrasting the energy democratization and energy expansion frames, and discussed also in the perspective of energy governance experimentation with community energy initiatives in The Netherlands. Three scenarios of shifts in legal governance are identified. The key issue in legal governance design is the choice between these, particularly with respect to the integrity of institutional environments in terms of former frames to provide proper guidance to operational (experimental) activity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1273
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2017


  • renewable energy
  • legal governance
  • normative alignment
  • institutional resilience
  • legal institutions
  • energy transition


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