Assessing co-creation in strategic planning for urban energy transitions

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27 Citations (Scopus)


Cities all over the world are setting ambitious targets of achieving zero carbon emissions and 100% renewable energy in the near future. Such energy transitions are highly complex societal processes, however, necessitating intensive collaboration among regional and national governments, energy companies and utilities, research institutions, advocacy groups, and local communities. Although there has been a rising interest in collaborative approaches such as co-creation in energy transition studies, existing literature on this topic sometimes lacks theoretical rigour or faces problems in practical application. This poses a challenge in assessing what makes co-creation useful for accelerating energy transitions. The aim of this paper is to critically review co-creation and other selected collaborative approaches across the public sector literature in order to develop an assessment framework for co-creation in strategic planning for energy transitions. Based on this review, we suggest that co-creation can be assessed according to the following criteria: 1) the involvement of actors (state, market, community, and third sector) and their roles in different phases (initiation, design, and implementation) of co-creation; 2) the use of four sets of activities (expectation alignment, social learning, resource acquisition, assessment, and evaluation) to foster transformative power; and 3) the outcomes of co-creation. The latter may include new knowledge, new relationships, and new solutions, as well as increased efficiency and social acceptability of the transition processes. We illustrate the application of this conceptual framework with an example from an ongoing energy transition led by the ProjectZero organization in Sønderborg, Denmark.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101952
JournalEnergy Research & Social Science
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Co-creation
  • Co-production
  • Critical review
  • Strategic energy planning
  • Urban energy transitions


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