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Doyle, G. (2019) ‘The heat is on: The capacities required for the establishment and sustainability of community-owned renewable energy district heating systems in Ireland’ the SSE Knowledge Hub for the SDGs ( and the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy (UNTFSSE)


International reviews of countries’ progress at tackling climate change show that Ireland is making small levels of progress on tackling issues associated with climate change. This paper will examine a theoretical framework, referred to as capacity analysis, to explain the capacities that need to be in place for the successful implementation of community-owned renewable energy district heating initiatives. The theoretical framework employed here is based on the ‘conceptual framework’ developed by Pringle which consists of four categories of capacity. The research methodology involves a case study with cases from Austria, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Wales and Scotland. The research indicates that the State needs to provide a range of supports for communities to establish community-owned renewable energy district heating initiatives. In addition, the State needs to implement a range of policies including the introduction of a carbon tax for the diffusion of these initiatives. The promoters of these initiatives need to be trusted within their respective communities. The research also points to the importance of engaging with a number of stakeholders. Dialogue with the residents living in the communities, where the community-owned renewable energy district heating initiatives are located, is also deemed a key factor for the establishment and maintenance of these initiatives.