Activating Energy Communities for Systemic Change

Abby Onencan, Jotte Ilbine Jozine Charlotte De Koning

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The speed of energy transition in the Netherlands is low, in contrast to its 2050 climate change target of net-zero emissions. The transition requires 7.5 million households with natural gas connections, to move to renewable energy sources. The main challenge is not technical, many viable options are already available, but social: people will need to be supported to decide and act. In this paper, we identify interventions that could activate change within energy communities, through 19 interviews conducted in March 2021 in Austerlitz, Zeist municipality, The Netherlands. Interview questions were guided by the Capability, Opportunity, Motivation, and Behavioural (COM-B) change model. The model explains factors that affect people’s behaviour. Results indicate that renovation and energy transition are viewed as two separate processes. Austerlitz homeowners are waiting for the government to lead the energy transition process, while they continue to renovate their homes to improve comfort, aesthetics, safety, and convenience. Also, current interventions towards activating households are piecemeal and more focused on creating external opportunities (such as financial support), and barely address the psychological capabilities and motivation factors (belief, attitude, social norm, and perceived behavioural control). To boost psychological capabilities and motivation, we recommend interventions that enhance homeowners’ belief that the energy transition is part of their long-term home renovation plans, for their own benefit, to motivate them to drive the energy transition process. Interventions may include ‘show’ or ‘display’ houses where energy transition was combined with renovations and highlighting inspirational energy transition stories on the municipality website.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConference Proceedings of the STS Conference Graz 2022
Subtitle of host publicationCritical Issues in Science, Technology‚ and Society Studies
EditorsGünter Getzinger, Michaela Jahrbacher, Franziska Häller
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-85125-932-2
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

This research was supported with funding from the NWO Call for Complexity & theCreative Industry: transitions & Resilience, under the ENRGISED project. ENRGISED
is an acronym for ENgaging Residents in Green energy Investments through Social networks, complExity, and Design. It is a research project between the TUDelft, Utrecht
University and several private partners. The aim is to develop a replicable intervention strategy for municipalities that can stimulate households to transition away from natural
gas towards green energy alternatives.


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