REsCO- Transformation of the energy system towards sustainability focusing on community-based activities
The willingness of private households to invest in green technologies and green electricity seems to depend not only on costs and environmental motivation but also on social norms and the social environment. Therefore, the project investigates the relationship between social factors and the use of green technologies. The study aims to generate new insights into how private households can be motivated to participate more actively in the transformation of the energy system. At the same time, REsCO contributes to a better understanding of the dynamics of diffusion processes.
In the project, three surveys were conducted, which focused on 1) the predictors of willingness to participate in a local energy community, 2) the characteristics that are particularly important when choosing between different community solutions, and 3) whether and if so, why individual privately-owned solutions are preferred to community solutions by homeowners. Initial results show, among other things, that homeowners generally do not have a consistently higher preference for investing in individual systems over energy communities, and that the preference for combined electricity and heat supply is strongest. The relevance of non-financial factors in decision-making was confirmed. Previous experiences of good acquaintances (i.e. recommendations) also play a major role. Based on the results of the surveys, possible transformation paths for energy communities are currently being identified and analyzed with regard to macroeconomic effects.
Illustration of project results
Figure 1 shows first results of the study concerning potential predictors of an intention to participate in an energy community. Psychological factors illustrating the local, community dimension of energy communities, namely social identity (collective efficacy, group norm, group identification), functional and emotional place attachment as well as sense of community are taken into consideration. Results highlight connections of social identity and sense of community with intention to participate. No significant relationship was observed between place attachment and intention to participate in an energy community.
- The results show that social needs, social capital, social norms, social identity and environmental awareness significantly influence the willingness to participate in energy communities. Therefore, information campaigns should not only address environmental issues, but also aspects such as the sense of community that is created through participation in energy communities.
- It became clear that positive impulses can be generated through the promotion of energy communities, especially with regard to the involvement of tenants in the energy transition and with regard to the heating transition. Therefore, the spread of energy communities should be supported, even if this is associated with additional costs.
- It must be taken into account that with an increase in self-supply or shared energy supply, grid fees, levies and tax revenues fall away, while the need for subsidies increases. Accordingly, counter-financing measures are necessary.
Broska, L. H. (2021): It’s all about community: On the interplay of social capital, social needs, and environmental concern in sustainable community action. Energy Research & Social Science 79, 102165.
Broska, L. H., Vögele, S., Shamon, H., Wittenberg, I. (2022):
On the Future(s) of Energy Communities in the German Energy Transition: A Derivation of Transformation Pathways. Sustainability, 14, 3169.
Wittenberg, I., Broska, L. H., Vögele, S., Shamon, H. (2019):
Human Behavior and the Energy Transition – Explanatory Approaches in Psychology, Economics, and Sociology. SSRN Working Paper.
Broska, L. H., Shamon, H., Vögele, S., Wittenberg, I. (in progress):
Energy communities in neighborhoods: a promising alternative to individual solutions for homeowners?
Wittenberg, I. (in progress):
Collective options of energy transition on a local level: Psychological drivers of intention to participate in energy communities in neighborhoods.