Project

SMARTEES - local social innovation

Goal: SMARTEES is a transdisciplinary research project which aims to support the energy transition and improve policy design by developing alternative and robust policy pathways that foster citizen inclusion and take local peculiarities into account.

To reach these objectives, SMARTEES examines fives types of energy and mobility related local social innovation in ten front-runner cities across Europe. The results stemming from this analysis will then feed into the development of a policy sandbox tool. Using a comprehensive modelling approach, this tool will help forecast the effects of policy measures and social innovation in similar local contexts, thereby supporting the improvement of policy design and decision-making. Through these means, the project will contribute to achieving a resilient, low-carbon and climate-friendly Energy Union that puts citizens at its core.

The SMARTEES project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 763912.

Date: 1 May 2018 - 1 May 2021

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Project log

Johannes Reichl
added a research item
We analyze European citizens' willingness to take climate mitigation action with data on one-time donation choices from a survey of 15,951 people across 27 nations. Responses are explored with an interdisciplinary hybrid choice model that integrates principles of psychology and economics. The results suggest that only participants who are certain about the reality of global warming and believe it is largely anthropogenic have a significantly higher willingness to donate to climate mitigation compared to groups with less certain beliefs. Individual drivers of climate action are identified in the perceived ancillary benefits of the actions, psychological factors, individual habits, and exposure to a collective efficacy treatment script. Additionally, national patterns in the observed donations suggest that increased climate mitigation spending at the country level may decrease citizen-level action and that frequent exposure to extreme weather events is associated with decreased support for mitigation actions. Finally, the results also highlight the importance of consistent messages about climate change, which may drive varying beliefs and personal norms and their predictors, and suggest key levers that may stimulate actions from specific groups.
Giuseppe Pellegrini-Masini
added a research item
Understanding free-riding is central to effective household energy retrofit subsidy policymaking. We replicate a Swiss study on free-riding prevalence in household energy retrofitting in Norway (Studer & Rieder, 2019). Compared to the original studies free-riding prevalence of 50%, we find only 10%, indicating that Norwegian free-riding is low. Similar to the original study, we find that the use of advisory service and having a good perception of the implementer is associated with not free-riding, but argue these findings should not be interpreted entirely causally, as confounding variables can also explain this association. Finally, we find that Norwegian retrofit subsidies are heavily focused on high-income households, which has ethical implications. Comparing the subsidy systems of the two countries, our findings indicate that raising the energy standard threshold for receiving retrofit subsidies leads to less free-riding, but could stimulate less retrofitting as a whole and focuses distribution of the subsidies on to rich households.
Nea Pakarinen
added an update
For a popular science look at SMARTEES Main Findings see the project's video gathering key insights here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0R6xqb3Y5Q
 
Johannes Reichl
added a research item
We compare Internet and telephone survey responses across 27 European Union nations and two research contexts: one, a choice experiment of willingness to pay to avoid power outages, and the other, a public acceptance of energy infrastructure question. The various forms of survey mode effects and the challenges of survey mode choice are documented and developed in the context of statistical theory and an application to an economics survey. We find evidence that survey mode effects vary across research contexts, and to a lesser extent, across nations. We suggest that the degree of measurement bias may be varying between research contexts, for example based on the availability of a perceived socially correct response within a given context. Future survey-based research should evaluate the choice of survey mode in a context-and region-specific manner.
Nea Pakarinen
added an update
The third and final SMARTEES online seminar sets out to tackle the question “Can computer simulations make transitions more successful?” It will present and give you an opportunity to explore yourselves the SMARTEES Policy Sandbox Tool, a new tool that aims to help cities to foster their related energy and mobility actions.
The event will convene SMARTEES cities to share thoughts on the tool and the approaches used in the project, as well as their advantages and potential challenges.
This event is of interest primarily for local authorities, but might also be interesting for researchers, entrepreneurs, and anyone interested in local social innovations in energy and mobility transitions.
WEBINAR#3: Can computer simulations make transitions more successful? - Showcasing a tool to help foster your local actions
Thursday, 14 October 2021 11am-12:30pm CET REGISTER HERE >>> https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/906599431869812237
 
Nea Pakarinen
added an update
Next Tuesday 14 September the SMARTEES final conference takes place online❗️
Come learn about social innovation dynamics in sustainable energy & mobility transitions and interdisciplinary research methods & modelling for a brighter future 💡
Programme attached.
 
Giuseppe Pellegrini-Masini
added 2 research items
Energy Justice (EJ) and particularly Energy equality (EE), arguably a radical conceptualization of energy justice, advocated for distributional justice and policies addressing distributional inequalities. Distributional policies are known to be contentious and often raise debates on the opportunity to interfere with the free-market allocation of goods in capitalistic economies. Whether EE inspired policies might be considered implementable or not depends on their social acceptability. Therefore, holding on to previous research findings pointing to the higher acceptability of equitable climate policies and the relationship between economic inequality and environmental degradation, we analyse EU data regarding income and income and wealth inequality and data from the H2020 ECHOES project, which consists of an extensive European survey of household energy consumption attitudes. We found that economic equality accounts for 41% of the variance explained at the country level of our sustainable energy care index (SECI), accounting for sustainable energy attitudes. We conclude that the interplay between economic equality and sustainable energy attitudes deserves further attention and might warrant a broader discussion about distributive policies within and beyond the energy sector.
Giuseppe Pellegrini-Masini
added a research item
In this article, we deal with the evaluation of the losses suffered by persons living in urban areas as a result of energy services. In the first part, we analyse how by adopting different informational foci we obtain contrasting interpersonal evaluations regarding the same loss. In the second part, we distinguish between a diachronic and a hypothetical/moralised threshold for harm in order to assess whether individuals are benefiting from or being harmed by a given energy service. Our argument is that the most accurate evaluation of an individual damage caused by an energy service can be obtained by using capabilities as informational focus, instead of realised wellbeing or means to wellbeing, and by interpreting the loss in relation to a hypothetical/moralised threshold that corresponds to a list of central capabilities. In the last part, we address monetary and non-monetary compensations for a loss that is evaluated in terms of capabilities. Accordingly, we expound how compensation policies can either restore the capabilities lost due to energy services or monetarily compensate the individual for the fact that a given capability (or set of capabilities) has been irremediably lost.
Jed J. Cohen
added a research item
This paper presents the results of a choice experiment for investments in community renewable energy (CRE) projects administered across 31 European nations. In the sample of 18,037 respondents, a high level of interest in the CRE investments is observed, with 79% of respondents choosing to invest in at least one of the eight investment scenarios shown to them. Along with financial concerns, operational and siting aspects of the investment options are highly relevant to potential investors. Specifically, investments that are administered as an energy cooperative and run by a community organization are preferred to investments administered by utility companies. Heterogeneity across Europe is present in the preference for the installation to be visible from an investor's home, and thereby potentially affect the viewshed but also allow for a perception of self-sufficiency. The results suggest that energy policies hoping to increase the uptake of the CRE model across Europe would do well to focus on supporting local organizations to administer such projects, and to highlight any positive local economic impacts from renewable generation projects to potential investors.
Nea Pakarinen
added an update
Community level projects play a vital role in sustainability transitions. Be it the planning of a heat network, liberating a neighborhood from transit traffic, or a collective investment in home improvement, social dynamics often determine the success or failure of an innovative community project. The EU SMARTEES project studied social dynamics of innovation in five types of energy- and mobility-related local social innovations in ten front-runner cities and islands across Europe. These case studies provided rich data and fascinating stories on the complexities of social innovation. Computational social simulation models were developed for a variety of cases, allowing for experimentation based on the modelling of actual community behavior, with different interests, positions and social networks represented through the diverse case selection. The results of these experiments and the robust research done in SMARTEES are captured in an innovative “Policy Sandbox-tool” that allows planners working with social innovation testing out different scenarios, to help determine the best course of action. During the SMARTEES conference, attendees will be able to explore the tool and learn about state of the art insights on how to support communities and strengthen local democracy to achieve sustainable energy- and mobility transitions.
See programme and speakers attached! More speakers to be announced soon!
 
Jed J. Cohen
added a research item
Interdisciplinary research is especially relevant in the energy field where ambitious political targets for the energy transition require rapid advancements in technology and simultaneous developments in social norms and citizen engagement. Challenges related to interdisciplinary communication and the integration of findings across disciplines have been cited in past work to inhibit project execution and the production of holistic research outputs. This paper offers specific tools and recommendations to overcome these challenges and facilitate an efficient collaboration. Specifically, a method for building a common project vocabulary and strategies for face-to-face group discussions are presented and tested. Recommendations regarding the usage and effectiveness of these strategies are based on the experiences of the SMARTEES Horizon 2020 interdisciplinary research project. The toolkit includes reproduction code for analyzing a project’s vocabulary, and a framework for planning and implementing effective structured discussions at project meetings.
Valeriya Azarova
added 2 research items
Charging infrastructure is one of the key ingredients necessary to further increase the market uptake of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). Most public charging infrastructure in Europe is not profitable, and 42% of European households reside in dwellings with no possibility to install a private charger, which are key limitations to the build-up of charging infrastructure. This work presents and analyzes an alternative business model for 'community-owned charging points' that combines many of the convenience advantages of private charging with the cost savings of a joint purchase. Survey data from 3,131 households in Austria is used to identify barriers to PEV charging and charging infrastructure usage, and investigate consumers' preferences with respect to community-owned charging points. Four key target groups of customers for such a business model are identified based on their socioeconomic characteristics, purchase history, and expressed level of environmental concerns, including current PEV owners, high income households, photovoltaic (PV) owners, and environmentalists. Identified distinct preferences for the configuration of a collective charging station amongst these groups include lower importance attached to flexibility to charge the vehicles at any time by current PEV owners, higher sensitivity to cost per charge of PV owners, and strong preferences for comfort and flexibility demonstrated by high income households.
Giuseppe Pellegrini-Masini
added 2 research items
In recent years, the concept of ‘energy justice’ has attracted much attention and research effort. While all policy issues related to energy justice are worthy of further study, the time constraints posed by the looming threat of climate change suggests the need for coordinated policy research efforts. At the current stage of development of European societies, we consider that four policy research strands might be most important in the light of specific evolving trends of European energy systems. Therefore, we propose these priorities as a shared research agenda for academic and policy researchers. In this article, we develop and discuss the following four research priority strands: 1. Intergenerational justice and energy justice 2. Justice and energy vulnerability, 3. Transformation of the social imaginary and energy infrastructure, 4. Damage, compensation and energy infrastructure. For each topic, we highlight their critical issues and research opportunities. We conclude that these priorities are necessary not only to accelerate the energy transition but also to avoid negative impacts that climate change and the transition phase could produce on already established patterns of inequality.
Adopting an interdisciplinary social science approach, this book examines community reactions to wind farms to form a new understanding of what facilitates social acceptance. Based on empirical research, this book investigates opposition to wind energy and considers the advantages and the limits of co-operative schemes for wind farm community ownership. Giuseppe Pellegrini-Masini compares the role of co-operative schemes with community benefits schemes in increasing acceptability, and also sheds light on the impact of social factors including pro-environmental attitudes, perceived benefits and costs, place attachment, trust, as well as individual resources such as information and income. Five research cases are investigated in England and Scotland, including the first locally community-owned wind farm co-operative in the UK. Critically reviewing existing social research theories, this book offers a new viewpoint, integrating rational choice and environmental attitudinal theories, from which to assess and understand social acceptability of wind energy, and highlights new opportunities for raising consensus in communities towards locally proposed wind farms. This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of renewable energy, energy policy, environmental sociology, environmental psychology, environmental planning and sustainability in general, as well as policymakers.
Nea Pakarinen
added an update
All the SMARTEES follower city/island visit videos are now online.
Through watching the videos you can explore lessons learned and gain insights on all of SMARTEES clusters, through the great showcases of SMARTEES reference cities/island:
  • Holistic mobility plans - Zurich
  • Mobility in superblocks - Vitoria-Gasteiz
  • District regeneration - Malmö
  • Energy efficiency against fuel poverty - Aberdeen
  • Islands and renewable energy - Samsø
Find all the inspiring videos here: https://local-social-innovation.eu/video/all-posts/
 
Giuseppe Pellegrini-Masini
added a research item
The main objectives of Deliverable 6.1 are to identify all relevant actors and their social networks, as well as to highlight the drivers of and the barriers to social innovations analysed in all case clusters in SMARTEES. This is done with a two-fold intention: On the one hand, input is given for the Agent-Based Models constructed in WP7, simulating the dynamic development of a significant aspect of each social innovation. On the other hand, a more generic perspective on barriers and drivers for social energy in-novation is taken to explore, how processes of social energy innovation can be fostered with respect to specific types of actors and their networks. Based on the analysis performed at the level of each cluster and at the level of each actor involved, we concluded with a list of observations that could be the starting point for formulating recommendations on policies related to social innovations: A general pro-environmental predisposition is perceived as an important driver of social innovations in the energy sector for the vast majority of actors in all cases. This means that no matter which type of actor in a social energy innovation process people are (e.g., NGO, administration, citizen, business), it is likely that more environmentally engaged people from these actor classes are more likely to drive social innovation processes. For this reason, it is recommended that social innovation policies that are inter-ested in making the social innovations easier for people to accept, take advantage of the pro-environmental attitude of people, refer to environmental issues when initiating the social innovation process, liaise with societal groups with strong environmental engagement, or to develop environmental engagement before introducing innovative solutions.
Nea Pakarinen
added an update
📢New date for SMARTEES Webinar 2:
‘Thinking ahead in local policies for successful energy and mobility transitions’
🗓️Wednesday 3rd June 2020
⏲️11am-12pm CET
After COVID-19 related postponements, we are happy to be back with a new date and new interactive panel! The second SMARTEES webinar will cover key patterns of successful policies in energy and mobility transitions, illustrated by the city of Groningen.
This webinar is of interest for local authorities and as well as for researchers, entrepreneurs and people interested in social innovation and energy/mobility transition.
This event will feature three talented panelists:
  • Giuseppe Pellegrini Masini (Postdoc Researcher, NTNU, Norway) will provide nine recommendations on how to make socially innovative and successful policies.
  • Terry Albronda (Mobility Policy Developer, Municipality of Groningen, the Netherlands) will share his practical experience on institutionalizing local social innovation in mobility transitions in the city of Groningen.
  • Frances Sprei (Associate Professor, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden) will discuss the topic from wider perspective and provide insights for local policy design. The interactive webinar, allows participants to further discuss and ask experts questions between each presentation. We are looking forward to delving into policy planning for a better future with you!
 
Nea Pakarinen
added an update
Unfortunately due to COVID-19 related obstacles we have to reschedule the webinar to a later date.
We will get back to you with a new date as soon as possible.
 
Iryna Novak
added an update
DATE: 13 November, 11.00-12.00 CET
SMARTEES starts its webinar series 'What’s new in social innovation and energy transitions?'. The series considers the social and political nature of energy transitions under the notion of social innovation.
The series kicks off with the webinar 'Local Leadership, or From Usual Suspects to Local Heroes. How to work together with your citizens towards a low-carbon society.' The speakers from among practitioners and researchers will discuss the following topics:
1. Dr. Erica Löfström (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway) on 'People at the heart of transitions: networks of social innovation'.
2. Soren Hermansen (Samsø Energy Academy, Denmark) on 'Why social innovation is as (or even more) important than technical innovation'.
3. Dr. Frances Sprei (Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden) on 'What are patterns and differences in successful transitions?'
 
Giuseppe Pellegrini-Masini
added a research item
Presentation given on the 13th of September 2018 in Mamö, at the 2018 'Energy justice and the capability approach' Conference
Giuseppe Pellegrini-Masini
added a research item
Energy equality (EE) is a novel concept, and its tentative definition was recently presented as follows: “Providing all individuals with equal opportunities of using energy services, energy technologies, and consuming energy and embodied energy for satisfying personal needs and holding capabilities” (Pellegrini-Masini, 2018, p. 13). The complexity of the concept and its relation to widely used concepts such as “needs”, “capabilities”, “energy justice”, “environmental justice”, “distributional justice” and “energy sufficiency” deserve to be analysed and discussed. Nevertheless, EE appears as a concept that is susceptible to inspire energy policies pursuing higher levels of distributional equity and the reduction of CO2 emissions. Distributional policies though, are known to be contentious and often raise debates on the opportunity of interfering with the free market allocation of goods in capitalistic economies. Whether EE inspired policies might be considered feasible and implementable depends on their expected social acceptance. In this paper, we discuss the interrelation of EE with other concepts at the core of energy consumption policies and we discuss the profile of social acceptability of the policies that might be informed by EE.
Christian A. Klöckner
added a project goal
SMARTEES is a transdisciplinary research project which aims to support the energy transition and improve policy design by developing alternative and robust policy pathways that foster citizen inclusion and take local peculiarities into account.
To reach these objectives, SMARTEES examines fives types of energy and mobility related local social innovation in ten front-runner cities across Europe. The results stemming from this analysis will then feed into the development of a policy sandbox tool. Using a comprehensive modelling approach, this tool will help forecast the effects of policy measures and social innovation in similar local contexts, thereby supporting the improvement of policy design and decision-making. Through these means, the project will contribute to achieving a resilient, low-carbon and climate-friendly Energy Union that puts citizens at its core.
The SMARTEES project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 763912.