Autonomy is often cited as a key aspect of energy systems. Previous academic literature on energy autonomy has predominantly approached it from a technological perspective, and conceptualized it as self-sufficiency of energy production. In addition to self-sufficiency, autonomous energy users and communities often aim to create energy systems that treat different stakeholders as equals, with a balanced distribution of costs and benefits. This paper has two aims. First, it aims to clarify the concept of ‘energy autonomy’. Second, it aims to provide an overview of existing literature addressing energy autonomy, identifying relevant publications and publication outlets, as well as main research themes and activities. The results, based on a systematic review of 71 peer-reviewed academic articles, show that energy autonomy research has increased in the last twenty years. The results also show how existing literature has understood, and used, the concept of energy autonomy in varying ways. Furthermore, the paper reveals how motivations, technologies, and scales differ in energy autonomy projects. While the aim of reaching energy autonomy is often motivated by economic and/or social reasons, these aspects are nevertheless rarely discussed in academic literature as the predominant focus tends to be on technological issues and self-sufficiency. The paper concludes with energy policy implications and avenues for future research.

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews Vol. 141

Jouni K. Juntunen, Mari Martiskainen

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