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Societal transition towards renewable energy provision and consumption

Technological transition will always have to be social, political and cultural.

While development of renewable energies and redesign of energy systems are necessary to reach the goal of sustainable, carbon-neutral societies, changes in energy production are not enough to bring about such a transition. It also requires considerable changes in production practices in key economic sectors and in lifestyles and behaviours that drive energy consumption. Moreover, new technologies for energy efficiency and energy production need to be integrated in household practices and can be met with social refusal or accept. And coherent policy frameworks are necessary to set in motion and guide these complex socio-technical processes. 

The research questions in this area include:

  • How do social practices, lifestyles and infrastructures affect consumption, energy utilisation and energy efficiency?
  • Which technologies, lifestyle changes and societal transformations are most likely to be met with social acceptability?
  • How and to what extent can energy consumers also become energy producers by delivering energy to their own households/businesses and to smart grids?
  • How can public infrastructure planning and policies in relation to energy production facilities and transport systems shape transition processes?
  • How should public policies be designed to ensure socially acceptable and economically efficient transitions towards renewable energy transition?
  • How to improve insights on behavioural aspects with regard to how and why people, businesses and societal groups react to different policy instruments?
  • How to understand synergies and conflicts between regulation of greenhouse gasses and other sector policies, including assessing and valuing co-benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

Disciplinary and interdisciplinary research competences of the SGA of Sustainable Energy, Climate and Society this area include:

  • Sociological research into social practices and socio-technological transitions in energy and climate policy
  • Environmental economic research examining the welfare economic efficiency of renewable technologies and transition pathways
  • Policy science research linking knowledge about societal processes and social practices to design policy as well as knowledge about policy implementation processes.