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Special Issue "Social Innovations in the Energy Transition"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Energy Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (17 September 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Thomas Hoppe

Delft University of Technology
Website | E-Mail
Interests: governance; public policy; policy implementation; energy transition; low carbon policy; low carbon city; renewable energy supplying cooperative
Guest Editor
Dr. Gerdien de Vries

Delft University of Technology
Website | E-Mail
Interests: behavioral science; public management; social influence; cognitive biases; environmental policy; technology; nudging; framing; energy transition; social innovation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In energy research, attention into the social and behavioral aspects of energy systems is often lacking (Sovacool, 2014). It is conducted separately from technical research, or it is only applied in a late stage of technological development. Moreover, novel energy technologies are often not, or are poorly, accepted (e.g., Huijts et al., 2012; Wuestenhagen et al., 2007), and potential users have difficulties to adapt their behavior when this is required for adoption and optimal use (e.g., de Vries et al, 2014; 2016; Terwel et al., 2011). In addition, research shows that institutions often hinder the development and diffusion of energy innovations (e.g., Negro et al., 2012; Faber & Hoppe, 2013).

 

Another problem related to the social dimension concerns the resistance to energy innovations, e.g., by incumbents in the industry, governmental bodies, traditional energy suppliers or by local communities, who perceive these innovations as disruptive or even threatening, and seek for opportunities to slow down or co-opt their development (e.g., de Vries, 2017; Meadowcroft, 2009). To address these problems it is necessary to map and analyse social and behavioral barriers to energy innovations. In addition, it is important to explore—and test—under which conditions innovations in the social and behavioral dimensions can help to address the aforementioned problems. This Special Issue deals with these dilemmas and the role social innovations can potentially play to solve or mitigate them. Social innovations have a high potential to address complex issues (e.g., Mulgan et al., 2007).

 

Scholars from various disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences are invited to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of combining technological innovation and social innovation, and try to answer the question of how insights from the technical, social and behavioral sciences can facilitate the implementation of social innovations (be they behavioral incentives, novel social structures, organization forms, new business models, institutional innovations, novel governance arrangements or policy innovations). In this Special Issue, special attention will be given to social innovation highlighted from: (a) the behavioral sciences, and (b) governance.

 

  • Within the behavioural theme, attention is paid to the role of behavioural insights to succeed in energy transitions. Questions will be addressed like: When will people rebel against sustainable energy initiatives? What psychological processes determine this behaviour? Will it help to give people a nudge in the right direction, for example by making use of cognitive biases (Goldstein et al., 2008; Schubert, 2017)? How to make energy-efficient appliances more attractive? Or what role could (risk) communication play in the acceptance of large energy projects such as wind farms or CO2 capture and storage (e.g., de Vries et al., 2014; 2016; 2017?
  • Within the governance theme the focus is on social, organisational, institutional, political and policy aspects regarding experimentation and implementation of social innovations in the energy domain. This leads to questions like: To which extent does public support exist for experimentation and deployment of social innovations in the field of energy? To what extent are social energy innovations at odds with values and institutions? And which of the legal and policy barriers are preventing energy innovation breakthroughs? What social control models, governance arrangements, and/or policies can be used to accelerate the diffusion of proven social energy innovations? And in which ways and under which conditions can (particular) innovative social structures – like citizen-led renewable energy supplying cooperatives – spur regional energy transition (e.g. Walker et al., 2010; Seyfang & Haxeltine, 2012), and how does government respond to them (e.g., Hoppe et al., 2015; Warbroek & Hoppe, 2017)?

 

This special issue seeks to explore, further conceptualize, and define the phenomenon of social innovations in the energy transition. It has been studies in–depth in other domains, but hardly vis-à-vis with regard to energy transition. We also feel that its current conceptualization and application in societal domains is too much mono-disciplinary, under-conceptualized, and is therefore in need of a more multidisciplinary re-conceptualization.

Dr. Thomas Hoppe
Dr. Gerdien de Vries
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

References:

 

Blanchet, T. (2015). Struggle over energy transition in Berlin: How do grassroots initiatives affect local energy policy-making? Energy Policy, 78, 246-254.

 

de Vries, G., Terwel, B. W., & Ellemers, N. (2014). Spare the details, share the relevance: The dilution effect in communications about CO2 capture and storage. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 38, 116-123.

 

de Vries, G., Terwel, B. W., & Ellemers, N. (2016). Perceptions of manipulation and judgments of illegitimacy: Pitfalls in the use of emphasis framing when communicating about CO2 capture and storage. Environmental Communication, 10, 206-226.

 

de Vries, G. (2017). How positive framing may fuel opposition to low-carbon technologies: The Boomerang Model. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 36(1), 28-44.

 

Faber, A., & Hoppe, T. (2013). Co-constructing a sustainable built environment in the Netherlands—Dynamics and opportunities in an environmental sectoral innovation system. Energy Policy, 52, 628-638.

 

Fri, R. W., & Savitz, M. L. (2014). Rethinking energy innovation and social science. Energy Research & Social Science, 1, 183-187.

 

Hargreaves, T., Hielscher, S., Seyfang, G., & Smith, A. (2013). Grassroots innovations in community energy: The role of intermediaries in niche development. Global Environmental Change, 23(5), 868-880.

 

Hielscher, S., Seyfang, G., & Smith, A. (2011). Community innovation for sustainable energy (No. 2011-03). CSERGE Working Paper.

 

Hoppe, T., Graf, A., Warbroek, B., Lammers, I., & Lepping, I. (2015). Local governments supporting local energy initiatives: lessons from the best practices of Saerbeck (Germany) and Lochem (The Netherlands). Sustainability, 7(2), 1900-1931.

 

Huijts, N. M., Molin, E. J., & Steg, L. (2012). Psychological factors influencing sustainable energy technology acceptance: A review-based comprehensive framework. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 16(1), 525-531.

 

Madlener, R. (2007). Innovation diffusion, public policy, and local initiative: The case of wood-fuelled district heating systems in Austria. Energy Policy, 35(3), 1992-2008.

 

Meadowcroft, J. (2009). What about the politics? Sustainable development, transition management, and long term energy transitions. Policy Sciences, 42(4), 323.

 

Mulgan, G., Tucker, S., Ali, R., & Sanders, B. (2007). Social innovation: what it is, why it matters and how it can be accelerated.

 

Negro, S. O., Alkemade, F., & Hekkert, M. P. (2012). Why does renewable energy diffuse so slowly? A review of innovation system problems. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 16(6), 3836-3846.

 

Schubert, C. (2017). Green nudges: Do they work? Are they ethical? Ecological Economics, 132, 329-342.

 

Seyfang, G., & Haxeltine, A. (2012). Growing grassroots innovations: exploring the role of community-based initiatives in governing sustainable energy transitions.

 

Sovacool, B. K. (2014). What are we doing here? Analyzing fifteen years of energy scholarship and proposing a social science research agenda. Energy Research & Social Science, 1, 1-29.

 

Terwel, B. W., Harinck, F., Ellemers, N., & Daamen, D. D. (2011). Going beyond the properties of CO2 capture and storage (CCS) technology: how trust in stakeholders affects public acceptance of CCS. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, 5(2), 181-188.

 

Walker, G., Hunter, S., Devine-Wright, P., Evans, B., & Fay, H. (2007). Harnessing community energies: explaining and evaluating community-based localism in renewable energy policy in the UK. Global Environmental Politics, 7(2), 64-82.

 

Walker, G., Devine-Wright, P., Hunter, S., High, H., & Evans, B. (2010). Trust and community: Exploring the meanings, contexts and dynamics of community renewable energy. Energy Policy, 38(6), 2655-2663.

 

Warbroek, B., & Hoppe, T. (2017). Modes of Governing and Policy of Local and Regional Governments Supporting Local Low-Carbon Energy Initiatives; Exploring the Cases of the Dutch Regions of Overijssel and Fryslân. Sustainability, 9(1), 75.

 

Wüstenhagen, R., Wolsink, M., & Bürer, M. J. (2007). Social acceptance of renewable energy innovation: An introduction to the concept. Energy Policy, 35(5), 2683-2691.

 

Keywords

 

 

  • Social innovation
  • Energy transition
  • Renewable energy
  • Energy savings
  • Governance, Behavior, Energy community
  • Energy cooperative
  • Co-creation
  • Co-production
  • Low carbon policy
  • Business model
  • Psychology

 

Published Papers (18 papers)

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Open AccessArticle The Regional Governance of Energy-Neutral Housing: Toward a Framework for Analysis
Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3726; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103726
Received: 7 August 2018 / Revised: 8 October 2018 / Accepted: 8 October 2018 / Published: 16 October 2018
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Abstract
Regions are expected to play a key role in realizing international, European, and national climate and energy goals. Also regions in the Netherlands are working toward these goals, taking initiatives toward an energy-neutral built environment by 2050. However, it remains unclear how such
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Regions are expected to play a key role in realizing international, European, and national climate and energy goals. Also regions in the Netherlands are working toward these goals, taking initiatives toward an energy-neutral built environment by 2050. However, it remains unclear how such efforts and other socially innovative activities can best be described and how variation between them in terms of governance can be explained. In this article, we develop a framework for analyzing the governance of regional energy-neutral housing initiatives. We ask what factors shape regional climate and energy governance, particularly regional efforts to increase the efficiency of urban dwellings. We answer this question using a subnational comparative method and a most similar case design, focusing on three Dutch regions: Utrecht, Noord-Brabant and Drenthe. Based on document analysis and 24 semi-structured interviews, we find that the regional governance of energy-neutral housing initiatives is primarily driven by existing social networks in the regions, and less determined by local characteristics of the built environment. Thus, regional governance seems to have generated solutions that are supported by regional actors. Nonetheless, as these solutions are not entirely tailored to the regional situation, functionally speaking, a key question for future research is how effective these solutions will be. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Innovations in the Energy Transition)
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Open AccessArticle Statistical Evidence on the Role of Energy Cooperatives for the Energy Transition in European Countries
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3339; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093339
Received: 31 July 2018 / Revised: 28 August 2018 / Accepted: 14 September 2018 / Published: 18 September 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1448 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The share of renewable energy is increasing throughout Europe. Yet, little is known about how much can be attributed to different actors, other than those commercially active. This paper provides empirical evidence of activities by energy cooperatives in the field of renewable energy
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The share of renewable energy is increasing throughout Europe. Yet, little is known about how much can be attributed to different actors, other than those commercially active. This paper provides empirical evidence of activities by energy cooperatives in the field of renewable energy in four different European countries. It draws from a database consisting of 2671 entries, contrasting results from current literature. We find that energy cooperatives are important enablers of the energy transition. However, their role is shrinking in recent years due to a tightening or removal of supportive schemes. We conclude that it is necessary to develop a systematic accounting system to properly track and make visible the contributions by different actors. In turn, this will help to better model the likely speed of Europe’s energy transition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Innovations in the Energy Transition)
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Open AccessArticle Who Beats the Dutch Tax Department? Tracing 20 Years of Niche–Regime Interactions on Collective Solar PV Production in The Netherlands
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2807; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082807
Received: 30 June 2018 / Revised: 2 August 2018 / Accepted: 3 August 2018 / Published: 8 August 2018
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Abstract
In the past years, Dutch citizens have experimented with various kinds of innovations to organize the collective production of renewable energy, including shared wind power and solar PV installations. Most of these attempts failed mainly due to legal issues and tax rules. Yet,
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In the past years, Dutch citizens have experimented with various kinds of innovations to organize the collective production of renewable energy, including shared wind power and solar PV installations. Most of these attempts failed mainly due to legal issues and tax rules. Yet, one model for solar PV on collective roofs was implemented more widely, namely the postcode rose (PCR, postcoderoos): a form of cooperative solar PV production within a set of adjacent postcode areas. Set within a broader transition perspective, this article studies the emergence and evolution of the PCR as an example of a successful social innovation in the energy transition, through an innovation biography and mapping of the evolution of the social and institutional network around the innovation. The various attempts for collective solar PV, with different degrees of success and uptake into the regime, present a key aspect of niche development, namely associational work (circulation and mobilization) focused on regime change. In conclusion, the innovation path of the PCR emphasizes the importance of the political and associational in the energy transition and in transition thinking. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Innovations in the Energy Transition)
Open AccessArticle Towards a Joint Local Energy Transition Process in Urban Districts: The GO2Zero Simulation Game
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2602; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082602
Received: 16 June 2018 / Revised: 13 July 2018 / Accepted: 18 July 2018 / Published: 24 July 2018
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Abstract
The depletion of fossil fuel sources for our energy system and the influence on overall CO2 emissions drive the need to more sustainable energy systems. The transition towards a renewable energy system cannot be seen as a purely technical issue; it is
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The depletion of fossil fuel sources for our energy system and the influence on overall CO2 emissions drive the need to more sustainable energy systems. The transition towards a renewable energy system cannot be seen as a purely technical issue; it is strongly embedded within society. In this study, we analyze the stakeholder complexities of the transition in urban districts and research the use of a simulation game to increase the understanding of the complexity of the transition. Surveys and observations were used to collect data about the learning experiences of playing the game GO2Zero. The results show that participants liked to play the game and they considered the game a valid representation of the system. Further, the participants agree that they obtained a better understanding of the complexity of the residential energy system and experienced a variety of challenges in the transition. Simulation games, like GO2Zero, could become valuable instruments in local energy transition processes as they offer a safe environment for novices and experts to jointly experiment with the challenges in this process. These experiences could support the design of the transition process by helping actors to formulate goals and collaborative strategies for achieving those goals. Future research will focus on the use of this game for experimenting with different strategies and instruments and to analyze their effects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Innovations in the Energy Transition)
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Open AccessArticle The Role of Intermediaries in Supporting Local Low-Carbon Energy Initiatives
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2450; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072450
Received: 21 June 2018 / Revised: 4 July 2018 / Accepted: 10 July 2018 / Published: 13 July 2018
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Abstract
Recent scholarly attention shows that grassroots civil society low-carbon energy initiatives increasingly become part of the subnational climate change governance landscape. Despite their potency in view of consumer-owned distributed generation and enhanced citizen influence in the organization of the energy infrastructure, local low-carbon
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Recent scholarly attention shows that grassroots civil society low-carbon energy initiatives increasingly become part of the subnational climate change governance landscape. Despite their potency in view of consumer-owned distributed generation and enhanced citizen influence in the organization of the energy infrastructure, local low-carbon energy initiatives (LLCEIs) struggle to become viable alternatives to the centralized, private oriented energy system. To further LLCEI development, support needs to build their capacities; alleviate institutional hurdles and barriers stemming from the fossil fuel-based energy regime; and open up the system for the uptake, acceptance or breakthrough of LLCEIs. Evidence suggests that so-called “intermediaries” form a part of the solution in addressing these issues. Despite previous attempts at analyzing intermediary roles and activities vis-à-vis the development of community energy, the reality of the various roles and strategies intermediaries can employ and the support LLCEIs require to further develop have not yet been synthesized in a comprehensive analytical framework. This article aims to fill this gap by developing such a framework. We reflect on the analytical framework by evaluating the intermediary support structure in a specific case: the Province of Fryslân. From the analysis, we conclude that the Frisian case provided modest support to the claim that intermediary support is effective in addressing the needs of LLCEIs as the strategies and roles observed represent a complete and coherent support structure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Innovations in the Energy Transition)
Open AccessArticle Comparative Analysis on Citizen’s Subjective Responses Related to Their Willingness to Pay for Renewable Energy in Japan Using Latent Variables
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2423; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072423
Received: 5 June 2018 / Revised: 5 July 2018 / Accepted: 5 July 2018 / Published: 11 July 2018
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Abstract
This paper focuses on understanding the difference between East and West Japan with respect to citizens’ subjective views on renewable energy. A comparative analysis was performed for cities in the east and west because renewable energy is a natural resource unique to each
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This paper focuses on understanding the difference between East and West Japan with respect to citizens’ subjective views on renewable energy. A comparative analysis was performed for cities in the east and west because renewable energy is a natural resource unique to each location and suitable for a distributed energy network operated under the autonomy of the local community. This paper indicates that the social acceptance of renewable energy and willingness to pay in East Japan is affected by the citizens’ strong concerns about the global environment and willingness to participate in policy-making, while the support of the deregulation of the retail electricity market and development of a distributed power system is more relevant in West Japan. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Innovations in the Energy Transition)
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Open AccessArticle An Empirical Analysis of Green Electricity Adoption Among Residential Consumers in Poland
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2281; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072281
Received: 27 April 2018 / Revised: 24 June 2018 / Accepted: 26 June 2018 / Published: 2 July 2018
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Abstract
This paper investigates the acceptance of green electricity among Polish residential consumers. Our focus was on the socio-economic and environmental attributes of consumers in terms of their willingness to adopt renewable energy sources (RES) and green electricity tariffs. In particular, this study explores
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This paper investigates the acceptance of green electricity among Polish residential consumers. Our focus was on the socio-economic and environmental attributes of consumers in terms of their willingness to adopt renewable energy sources (RES) and green electricity tariffs. In particular, this study explores the determinants of adoption by examining consumers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for green electricity, willingness to switch to green electricity tariffs, and willingness to install small-scale generators in the household. The hypotheses were tested empirically with data collected by means of a standardized telephone survey of 502 household electricity consumers in Poland. Most Polish people accept and support the development of RES, but they do not know how to contribute to this process. Their WTP increases with income, education, pro-environmental attitudes, and knowledge. They also care about social influence. To increase the adoption rate of RES among residential consumers, stable legal regulations, clear procedures, subsidies, social campaigns, and educational trainings are needed. We believe that the findings from this study may be valuable for those involved in marketing green electricity offers and for politicians responsible for the increase of the share of renewables in the Polish power system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Innovations in the Energy Transition)
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Open AccessArticle Should We Play Games Where Energy Is Concerned? Perceptions of Serious Gaming as a Technology to Motivate Energy Behaviour Change among Social Housing Residents
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1729; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061729
Received: 25 April 2018 / Revised: 22 May 2018 / Accepted: 23 May 2018 / Published: 25 May 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (259 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The invisibility and intangibility of energy are key challenges faced by communicators looking to reduce household energy demand. ‘Serious games’—defined as formalized, goal-oriented games designed to educate, or promote health and well-being—are one potential strategy that may help to alleviate these challenges. This
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The invisibility and intangibility of energy are key challenges faced by communicators looking to reduce household energy demand. ‘Serious games’—defined as formalized, goal-oriented games designed to educate, or promote health and well-being—are one potential strategy that may help to alleviate these challenges. This paper discusses the suitability of serious gaming as an educational and behavioural change tool within the context of social housing—a faction often overlooked when it comes to household energy research. The paper takes a two-part approach. First, we review current literature on serious energy games, and second, we discuss perceptions of serious energy games amongst social housing residents using data from two surveys (Survey A, n = 536; Survey B, n = 78). Perceptions of serious energy games were found to be mixed. Some residents liked the idea of a game for energy, particularly if clear, actionable solutions for reducing energy bills were provided. However, others were disinterested, due to existing time pressures, negative perceptions of gaming, and limited confidence using computers or tablets. As such, uptake may be met with challenges. The findings highlight the need for interdisciplinary collaborations and user-led approaches for the design of successful and engaging serious energy games. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Innovations in the Energy Transition)
Open AccessArticle The Spanish Turn against Renewable Energy Development
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1208; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041208
Received: 17 January 2018 / Revised: 6 April 2018 / Accepted: 10 April 2018 / Published: 17 April 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (9016 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this study, we focus on the case of Spanish energy policy and its implications for sustainable energy development. In recent years, Spanish legislation has changed dramatically in its approach to sustainable energy sources. This change is despite EU and international efforts to
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In this study, we focus on the case of Spanish energy policy and its implications for sustainable energy development. In recent years, Spanish legislation has changed dramatically in its approach to sustainable energy sources. This change is despite EU and international efforts to increase energy efficiency, and to accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources (RES) in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Based on the socio-technical transitions literature, this paper assesses the role of the new legislation in this altered scenario, and analyzes the evolution of energy production in Spain in the EU context. The results are triangulated with two expert assessments. We find that Spanish energy policy is responding to the energy lobby’s demands for protection for both their investment and their dominant position. This has resulted in a reduction in the number of investors combined with a lack of trust in both local and foreign investors in the sustainable energy sector, affecting also social innovations in energy transitions. We conclude that Spain is a particular case of concomitance between the energy sector and political power which raises concern about the viability of a higher level of energy sovereignty and the achievement of international commitments regarding climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Innovations in the Energy Transition)
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Open AccessArticle Role of ‘Community Spaces’ in Residents’ Adaptation to Energy-Efficient Heating Technologies—Insights from a UK Low-Energy Housing Development
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 934; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10040934
Received: 10 January 2018 / Revised: 12 March 2018 / Accepted: 15 March 2018 / Published: 23 March 2018
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Abstract
Advanced energy-efficient heating technologies are often integral to low-energy home design, practice, and policy. The expectation is that technologies designed to lower space-heating energy use may also contribute to better performing buildings and a comfortable indoor environment. Too often, though, it is found
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Advanced energy-efficient heating technologies are often integral to low-energy home design, practice, and policy. The expectation is that technologies designed to lower space-heating energy use may also contribute to better performing buildings and a comfortable indoor environment. Too often, though, it is found that residents do not use technologies as intended due to multiple socio-technological phenomena. Whilst increasing efforts have been made to better understand residents’ social engagement with energy-efficient heating technologies, there is a lack of evidence that takes into account the wider context of a housing development. This paper draws on residents’ experiences across 40 dwellings in a recently completed low-energy residential development in the United Kingdom (UK). Implications of the research are twofold. First, the study contributes to a better understanding of the emerging roles, motivations, and expectations that a ‘community’ has for residents living in domestic low-energy environments. Second, there are implications for design professions to take account of the potential effects that specific external collective spaces such as playgrounds, allotments, and gardens can have on the ways that residents adapt to new technologies within their home. There are also implications for international energy policies on low-energy housing, specifically in relation to energy efficiency technology adaptation and learning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Innovations in the Energy Transition)
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Open AccessArticle Transition towards Renewable Energy Production? Potential in Smallholder Agricultural Systems in West Bengal, India
Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 801; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10030801
Received: 12 February 2018 / Revised: 7 March 2018 / Accepted: 8 March 2018 / Published: 13 March 2018
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Abstract
Renewable energy (RE) production promotes the efficient and sustainable utilization of natural resources at the local level. This study assessed smallholder farmers’ perceptions of RE production in two villages in West Bengal, India. The availability and potential of renewable resources and livelihood characteristics
[...] Read more.
Renewable energy (RE) production promotes the efficient and sustainable utilization of natural resources at the local level. This study assessed smallholder farmers’ perceptions of RE production in two villages in West Bengal, India. The availability and potential of renewable resources and livelihood characteristics of smallholders were explored. Relevant factors for the selection of appropriate RE technologies were identified, based on the participatory, bottom-up Integrated Renewable Energy Potential Assessment. The research area has abundant solar resources and substantial amounts of organic residues and waste suitable for biodigestion. Important factors for RE technology selection, as stated by farmers, are: ease of daily activities, government support, and limited land requirements. Solar-photovoltaic (PV) systems providing sufficient electricity for household use and irrigation are considered the most appropriate. Key informants focus on initial investment costs, government support, and reduced energy expenditure. They favor solar-PV systems for household electrification. Second choice was an integrated food and energy system that combines solar-PV for irrigation and vermicomposting of organic residues/wastes for fertilizer production. Smallholder famers’ motivation to produce and use RE is high. Their perspective should be integrated in the design of RE-supporting policies and related programs to utilize local natural resources effectively and promote the transition towards renewable energy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Innovations in the Energy Transition)
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Open AccessArticle Who Drives the Transition to a Renewable-Energy Economy? Multi-Actor Perspective on Social Innovation
Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 448; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10020448
Received: 20 October 2017 / Revised: 5 February 2018 / Accepted: 5 February 2018 / Published: 8 February 2018
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1841 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study examines how various actors influence the transition to a renewable-energy economy. We employ a conceptual framework derived from a literature review and text-mining analysis and establish a panel data model for an empirical test using unbalanced panel data from 25 member
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This study examines how various actors influence the transition to a renewable-energy economy. We employ a conceptual framework derived from a literature review and text-mining analysis and establish a panel data model for an empirical test using unbalanced panel data from 25 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), for the period from 1990 to 2014. We establish a panel vector autoregressive (VAR) model in the first differences and use a bias-corrected least squares dummy variable (LSDVC) estimator to test complex dynamic relationships between government, the public, markets, the traditional energy sector (i.e., the sector that uses nuclear power, oil, coal and natural gas as sources for electricity) and the contribution of renewables to the total energy supply. We also perform Wald tests on the coefficients of variables estimated by LSDVC estimator to determine causal relationships between the variables. The results of this study reveal that government and markets directly promote the transition to renewable energy, whereas the traditional energy sector negatively and directly affects the transition. By contrast, the public does not directly influence the transition to a renewable-energy economy. This study also shows that the government and public have positive indirect effects on the transition, by interacting with the market. We also find convincing evidence of significant dynamic-path dependence in all estimations. Finally, we discuss some implications based on the findings of this study. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Innovations in the Energy Transition)
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Open AccessArticle Facilitating Energy Transition through Energy Commons: An Application of Socio-Ecological Systems Framework for Integrated Community Energy Systems
Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 366; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10020366
Received: 9 November 2017 / Revised: 15 December 2017 / Accepted: 30 January 2018 / Published: 31 January 2018
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Abstract
Integrated Community Energy Systems (ICES) are an emerging local energy system focusing on the collective use of distributed energy resources (DER). These socio-technical systems (STSs) have a high potential to advance the transition towards socially inclusive, environmentally-friendly energy systems and to stimulate the
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Integrated Community Energy Systems (ICES) are an emerging local energy system focusing on the collective use of distributed energy resources (DER). These socio-technical systems (STSs) have a high potential to advance the transition towards socially inclusive, environmentally-friendly energy systems and to stimulate the local economy. While there is an analogy between energy in ICES and other common goods such as natural resources, it is not clear to what extent the existing theoretical framework for Socio-ecological Systems (SES) on the commons accounts for the specificities of common resources in ICESs and other STSs. This research explores the applicability of the SES framework to energy commons that are firmly embedded in STS with reference to the DE Ramplaan ICES in the Netherlands. The formation process and governance characteristics of this ICES are revised, further aided by stakeholder interviews. A framework and a strategic plan that can be used to design and implement an ICES are proposed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Innovations in the Energy Transition)
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Open AccessArticle Understanding Stakeholders’ Views and the Influence of the Socio-Cultural Dimension on the Adoption of Solar Energy Technology in Lebanon
Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 364; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10020364
Received: 24 November 2017 / Revised: 17 January 2018 / Accepted: 19 January 2018 / Published: 31 January 2018
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Abstract
In light of climate change and global commitments, a great amount of programs and policies have been implemented by governments targeting the diffusion of renewable energy technologies. Successful diffusion relies on the understanding, persuasion and acceptance by consumers and other stakeholders. This article
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In light of climate change and global commitments, a great amount of programs and policies have been implemented by governments targeting the diffusion of renewable energy technologies. Successful diffusion relies on the understanding, persuasion and acceptance by consumers and other stakeholders. This article investigates the views, roles and influence of stakeholders on the adoption of solar energy technology in Lebanon. The main research questions are: What are the stakeholders’ views, roles and influence on the diffusion process of solar energy technologies? And are specific socio-cultural factors therein that influenced adoption? The influence of different stakeholders (end users, public representatives, banking sector, suppliers, consultants and NGOs) was assessed via qualitative data analysis, in particular semi-structured interviews. Our research perspective combines grounded and critical theoretical approaches with a case study research design allowing for a semi-inductive process to elaborate and complement new insights to the current body of literature on adoption of clean technology innovation, with a particular focus on the socio-cultural dimension. The results show that contextual factors, specifically related to the social, cultural, geographic and market dimensions, played a crucial role in shaping market development, especially in relation to the uptake of solar energy technology by different consumer groups. Based on the results of this study we argue that more scholarly attention should be awarded to the influence of the socio-cultural dimension and stakeholders’ perspectives on adoption of renewable energy technology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Innovations in the Energy Transition)
Open AccessArticle Radical Prosumer Innovations in the Electricity Sector and the Impact on Prosumer Regulation
Sustainability 2017, 9(7), 1207; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9071207
Received: 2 June 2017 / Revised: 3 July 2017 / Accepted: 4 July 2017 / Published: 10 July 2017
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Abstract
The electricity sector is in a transition towards a Smart Energy System where the roles of private and institutional actors are evolving. This work deals with the influence of some technological innovations, enabling social innovations such as peer to peer trading and the
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The electricity sector is in a transition towards a Smart Energy System where the roles of private and institutional actors are evolving. This work deals with the influence of some technological innovations, enabling social innovations such as peer to peer trading and the participation in local energy collectives, on the regulation of the rights and obligations of consumers and prosumers in the electricity sector. It identifies the main radical innovations in the electricity market and analyses the legal and related non-legal obstacles that may impede the empowerment of energy consumers and prosumers. Some recommendations are provided to ensure that consumers and prosumers are empowered and can benefit from these new technological and social innovations in the electricity market. The recommendations relate to an accurate definition of prosumers and active consumers, the integration of demand response, the evolving role of distribution network operators and the birth of peer-to-peer trading. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Innovations in the Energy Transition)

Review

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Open AccessReview Universities as Models of Sustainable Energy-Consuming Communities? Review of Selected Literature
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3250; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093250
Received: 15 August 2018 / Revised: 7 September 2018 / Accepted: 10 September 2018 / Published: 12 September 2018
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Abstract
Given the prominent position of academia in sustainability studies and sustainability science, it is natural to want to look to universities as models of (or keepers of knowledge about) sustainable practices—including practices related to energy consumption. Nevertheless, there is a long history of
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Given the prominent position of academia in sustainability studies and sustainability science, it is natural to want to look to universities as models of (or keepers of knowledge about) sustainable practices—including practices related to energy consumption. Nevertheless, there is a long history of and literature on universities failing to implement their own sustainability initiatives. Apart from typical justifications for implementation failure that include budget constraints and financial infeasibility, one of the main obstacles that consistently keeps universities from achieving their own sustainability-related goals is a lack of enforcement. More precisely, universities tend to codify their sustainability-related goals in non-binding declarations that are voluntary. In that respect, failure to achieve a goal does not result in any sort of formal sanction. As such, universities are free to claim a commitment to sustainability in their public communications, without having to consistently and persistently demonstrate that commitment in practice. Situated on this backdrop, the present review paper aims to concisely and selectively stitch together three streams of literature: (1) the rationale for sustainability and, by extension, sustainable energy consumption, in higher education; (2) the current state of sustainability planning and its (in)efficacy in institutions of higher education; and (3) effective practices for reducing energy consumption at scales comparable to university campuses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Innovations in the Energy Transition)
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Open AccessReview Analysing the Institutional Setting of Local Renewable Energy Planning and Implementation in the EU: A Systematic Literature Review
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3212; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093212
Received: 18 August 2018 / Revised: 4 September 2018 / Accepted: 5 September 2018 / Published: 7 September 2018
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Abstract
Due to the liberalisation of the European Union’s (EU) electricity sector, stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities in local energy planning and implementation are not well-defined in legislation anymore. To investigate what local energy planning and implementation processes look like in the post-liberalisation era we
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Due to the liberalisation of the European Union’s (EU) electricity sector, stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities in local energy planning and implementation are not well-defined in legislation anymore. To investigate what local energy planning and implementation processes look like in the post-liberalisation era we conduct a systematic literature review by addressing the question ‘which institutional settings of local renewable energy planning and implementation in the EU’s post-liberalisation area has prior empirical research identified?’ For this systematic analysis we conceptualised the analytic concept ‘action situation’ (as developed by Elinor Ostrom), from an energy governance and energy policy perspective. The literature review was conducted in two cycles: A systematic database search and snowballing. Four clusters of search terms were used to search two databases. The selected articles were coded using Atlas.ti. Our in-depth qualitative analysis revealed the institutional arrangements used in the reported local energy planning processes were found to not be ideal for the introduction of renewable energy technologies. No type of actor group seems actively to support the realisation of renewable energy projects. Moreover, a high dependence on financial subsidies was found. These results are useful for practitioners and policy-makers as they show which possibilities and limitations stakeholders encounter in the changed level playing field of local energy planning. The article also presents propositions for future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Innovations in the Energy Transition)
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Other

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Open AccessPerspective Emotional Responses to Energy Projects: Insights for Responsible Decision Making in a Sustainable Energy Transition
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2526; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072526
Received: 31 May 2018 / Revised: 23 June 2018 / Accepted: 9 July 2018 / Published: 19 July 2018
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Abstract
Energy projects aimed at a sustainable energy transition can trigger strong negative emotions and resistance from the public. While practitioners are increasingly realising that they cannot simply ignore public emotions, they struggle with how to deal with people’s emotional responses and how to
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Energy projects aimed at a sustainable energy transition can trigger strong negative emotions and resistance from the public. While practitioners are increasingly realising that they cannot simply ignore public emotions, they struggle with how to deal with people’s emotional responses and how to secure public acceptability of sustainable energy projects. We argue that a first critical step in order to adequately address emotional responses to energy projects is to understand where these emotional responses come from. We introduce a value-based approach, which entails that different characteristics of energy projects may violate or support people’s core values, which evokes emotions in people. We present a theoretical framework of the relationship between people’s values, the (perceived) implications of energy projects for these values, and people’s emotional responses to energy projects. We give examples from case studies in the literature to substantiate our reasoning, and we offer directions for future research. Our novel approach provides critical insights for project developers, decision makers, engineers, and scientists who aim to better understand the human dimension of a sustainable energy transition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Innovations in the Energy Transition)
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