Inderscience Publishers

Business model innovation for sustainable energy: how German municipal utilities invest in offshore wind energy

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Offshore wind energy is considered to have tremendous potential for Germany’s future electricity supply. Due to the technology’s capital intensity, however, offshore wind energy has so far been considered the domain of large utilities. Municipal utilities on the contrary traditionally have strong ties to their community and conduct low risk business models at the regional and local level. Recently, however, German municipal utilities started to invest in offshore wind energy. Based on a series of interviews with municipal utility executives, the present study identifies two innovative business models and ten key drivers for municipal utilities’ engagement in offshore wind energy. It is found that the new business models may have significant further potential and help to stimulate the German market. The present study contributes to the industry debate by identifying business model blueprints for offshore wind and to the academic debate by suggesting three generic types of business model innovation with different characteristics.

Keywords: offshore wind energy, renewable energy, sustainable energy, business model, business model innovation, innovation management, German energy industry, municipal utility, energy transition, technology management

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