The European Commission’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020, offers a call for proposals investigating the role of Energy Citizenship in the Clean Energy Transition.
The clean-energy transition doesn’t just pose technological and scientific challenges; it also requires a better understanding of cross-cutting issues related to socioeconomic, gender, sociocultural, and socio-political issues. Addressing these issues will help to devise more effective ways of involving citizens and to better understand energy-related views and attitudes, ultimately leading to greater social acceptability as well as more durable governance arrangements and socioeconomic benefits.
Energy citizenship: SSH research offers many insights into the conditions favouring civic engagement, active participation and interaction with institutional or corporate actors. Such “energy citizenship” is not limited to early technology adopters or environmental activists, and it goes beyond (but also encompasses) mere “consumer involvement”. Rather than using SSH research as an instrument to achieve particular outcomes (e.g., social acceptance) it can help to understand in what kind of environments collaborative goal setting and commitment can take place, how relevant decisions are made and any trade-offs between competing goals are addressed. This has important implications for EU energy policymaking. Proposals are expected to examine the factors affecting the emergence and effectiveness of energy citizenship and its potential for achieving the decarbonisation of the energy system. This should include factors such as digitalisation, social media, social group dynamics (e.g. creating trust, finding shared goals), societal factors (e.g. institutional, corporate or legal environment), demographics and social justice. It should result in practical recommendations for policy-makers. Specifically, proposals are expected to focus on one or several of the following questions:
- Is energy citizenship more likely to emerge locally, or at regional, national or supranational levels? For what reasons?
- What is the relative importance of processes internal to relevant social groups (e.g., creating trust and connection, finding shared goals and solutions, building coalitions), as opposed to external environmental variables (e.g., relative openness of institutional or corporate environments, availability of sympathetic interlocutors, access to financial or other sources of support, legal or other obstacles)?
- What impact does the digitisation of the energy system and the proliferation of social media have on the emergence and consolidation of energy citizenship?
- Under what conditions is energy citizenship conducive to reaching broader policy goals, particularly the decarbonisation of the energy system, and under what conditions does it have the opposite effect?