MBA Renewables

Silvia Zinetti

Master's thesis

Sustainable energy for cities and local governments: An integrated assessment of Community Choice Energy business models in California

Professional background

Sustainable energy consultant and policy advisor. Expertise in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sector, European affairs, research and development projects.

Advice for future students

"Time management and dedication are the keys to successfully complete the programme. So make sure to plan your time accordingly to the workload and everything will go smooth. I would also recommend attending the two weeks on-campus time in Berlin as you have the opportunity to meet the RENAC team, the professors at BEUTH, and your colleagues".

Experience with  the MBA Renewables

"This MBA made me grow both professionally and personally. Stressful at times but definitely worth the time and effort. I am happy I decided to take the challenge and proud to successfully complete it. The programme is well structured and covers all the aspects of renewable energy and energy efficiency in an integrated way. Working with colleagues from different cultures makes it even more challenging but you certainly develop skills that are needed in today’s globalized market. Definitely a great experience".


Abstract of the thesis:
Innovative business models in the renewable energy sector are of growing interest, particularly at the local level where several cities and municipalities are leading the way toward the energy transition with new commitments to 100% renewable energy. Community Choice Energy is a new interesting business model that is catching the attention of numerous cities in the U.S.; however, it is still in its early stage in California. This paper aims at an integrated assessment of the existing business model of two case studies located in California for future projects repetitions. The use of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats framework in combination with the business model canvas has enabled a deeper assessment of the organization’s business model and its building blocks, ensuring an evaluation from multiple viewpoints. This research has revealed that CCE business model works as long as customers will stay in the program, and the price stability and competitiveness is guaranteed. Strong customer relationships and effective channels are key for the success of the business model, as well as the effective procurement of energy sources. Repeater projects must take into consideration their specific electricity market, current legislation, regulation, and the consumer’s choices. Because of the reliability of multiple-case study research, conclusions can be applied to a broader range of cases. Specific recommendations for the case studies and a strategy map with specific key objectives for repeater projects are tangible outcomes of this master thesis. Additional research that involves external environments in other areas, price mechanism, and customer perspective will further enhance the understanding of this business model and its potential replication in the U.S. and beyond.