Analysing community-based initiatives for heating and cooling: A systematic and critical review

Javanshir Fouladvand*, Amineh Ghorbani, Niek Mouter, Paulien Herder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
82 Downloads (Pure)


Energy communities are decentralized socio-technical systems where energy is jointly generated and distributed among a community of households locally. As the energy that is shared among the community is commonly electricity, the energy community's literature is dominated by electricity-systems and mostly neglects collective thermal energy as an alternative energy carrier for heating and cooling. Our goal in this article is to organise the existing research on “community-based initiatives for heating and cooling ” by using the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework, and based on this analysis, identify a future research agenda. Our analysis reveals that the number of publications in this area has been growing fast recently, focusing on technological challenges. Fewer papers take an institutional point of view, in which they cover policies, price reforms and values. The institutionally oriented papers focus on solar thermal energy and bio-based thermal energy. Other thermal technologies, such as geothermal wells, are largely neglected in the literature, but are known to have different institutional constraints. Informal rules and values are mainly researched from a consumer perspective. Since energy communities often consist of consumers and prosumers, additional research is warranted into this area. Evaluative criteria for such communities are limited to economic aspects and greenhouse gas emissions, while indicators such as soil pollution and spatial planning that may play an equally important role are neglected. We recommend studying thermal energy communities as distinctive entities with their own unique characteristics, and we develop a research agenda for this purpose.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102507
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Energy community
  • Institutional analysis and development
  • Renewable energy technologies
  • Systematic literature review
  • Thermal energy community
  • Thermal energy system


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  • Energy Security of Thermal Energy Communities

    Fouladvand, J., 2022, 207 p.

    Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

    Open Access
    239 Downloads (Pure)

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