A critical review of energy democracy: A failure to deliver justice?

Sufyan Droubi (Lead / Corresponding author), Raphael Heffron, Darren McCauley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)
293 Downloads (Pure)


The concept of energy democracy has seen a moderate rise in scholarship over the last decade. This article is the first to examine the concept of energy democracy from a critical perspective, and it is advanced here that the concept is limited and narrow. Further, through analysing it through the JUST Framework it is clear that energy democracy fails to deliver real justice. The JUST Framework takes us through core justice issues, such as distributive, procedural, restorative, recognition and cosmopolitanism. Further, it explores the space and time dimensions which bring a more practical perspective on the concept. Energy democracy scholars in the recent past (in 2019 and 2020) have sought to broaden the concept. However, as this article shows, these debates exist in the literature already, and energy justice and just transition issues go much further and are already more developed and utilised by researchers. In addition, the energy democracy concept is limited in the main part to local communities and ignores key issues such as energy extraction activities and indigenous communities. To conclude, and to achieve action, we call on energy democracy scholars to engage in the just energy transition literature and to contribute to the decrease of the language war that is progressively affecting the field of energy studies addressing the challenges of an accelerated transition to a lower-carbon economy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102444
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Early online date18 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • Energy democracy
  • energy justice
  • JUST Framework
  • Energy justice
  • JUST framework
  • Just transition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • General Energy
  • Law
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Fuel Technology
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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