The realisation of, and limits to, alternative financial logics in urban renewable energy

Miss Paris Hadfield1

1University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia


This paper asks whether and how non-capitalist financial logics emerge in the scaling up of renewable energy in cities to explore the heterogeneity of financialisation in sustainability transitions. Financialisation logics constitute a semi-coherent, rather than totalising, regime of actors and practices that help explain temporal tendencies, including preferences for short-term profits versus ‘patient’ long-term revenue stability, and future speculation; spatial tendencies, including the direction of investment towards certain technologies or locations; and scalar connections, where capital flows connect local actors, assets and markets to global investors. Counter-hegemonic financial innovations pursuing socially responsible modes of finance nevertheless coexist. Bristol Energy Cooperative (BEC), a community group investing in renewable energy facilities in Bristol, England, provides an example. However, by leveraging debt finance alongside traditional crowdfunding to expand more quickly, BEC is enrolled in new risk relations and financial obligations. While the cooperative and its partners enact alternative practices of flexible lending and local redistribution of profits for non-revenue-generating activities, dominant financial standards and expectations persist and condition BEC’s investment decisions, as well as the distributional benefits of its developments. These findings demonstrate both the contingency and strength of financialisation logics and the uncertain role of local intermediaries in driving ‘just’ sustainability transitions.


Paris Hadfield is a PhD Candidate at the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning. Her research is funded by the CRC for Low Carbon Living and focuses on renewable energy financing in cities. Paris considers whether and how novel financial mechanisms scale up renewable energy development, and the social equity and governance implications of these approaches. Paris has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and her email address is


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