A Socio-Economic Perspective on Energy Informatics

Socio-economic research in the energy field benefits from continuously improving access to household-level energy consumption data; most notably the smart metering infrastructure changes the way and depth with which researchers can analyse and understand the drivers of household-level energy consumption. In this keynote, Andrea Kollmann presents results from several research projects exploiting electricity load-profiles of households together with ancillary information about the people behind the meter. She will present the results of field testing a smart phone app with more than 3000 households, which i) informs users about their energy consumption and creates motivation to reduce electricity demand, ii) supports households to become active customers, iii) and creates incentives for consumers to shift their electricity loads towards times of high renewable production. She will also show how this data allows the pre-assessment of regulatory measures and how such pre-assessment can improve their accuracy. Furthermore, she elaborates how non-monetary incentives can trigger behavioural change towards a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Her talk also addresses the challenges for socio-economic research from a European perspectives showing results of a recent pan-EU survey among 18,000 Europeans.

Andrea Kollmann

Dr. Andrea Kollmann
Andrea Kollmann is project manager at the Energy Institute at the Johannes Kepler University Linz, Department of Energy Economics. She currently coordinates the Horizon2020 project S-PARCS (#785134), serves as the vice-coordinator of the Horizon2020 project PEAKapp (grant #695945) and is the work package manager in the H2020 project ECHOES (grant #727470). Her research is focused on gaining a deeper understanding of how customers – private as well as industrial ones – can be motivated and supported in becoming active participants in the energy transition and how novel products and services can be used and implemented to this aim.

The energy transition – an integrative analysis

The ongoing energy transition is seen as a key constituent for the transition towards a more sustainable society. An important element in the move towards a sustainable energy system is the transition from a mainly centralized, fossil-fuel system to a more localized, renewable one. This transition, however, requires not only the development of new energy technologies but also radical, systemic shifts in deeply held values and beliefs, in patterns of social behavior, and in governance regimes. Thereby the ecological, technical and social systems have to be conceptualized as Social-Ecological-Technical Systems (SETS) and new integrative, interdisciplinary research approaches are needed which consider the interaction between these subsystems. We present results of an integrative analysis of energy transitions.  We show (i) how institutional development and infrastructure development co-evolve; (ii) scenarios of the energy demand in the housing sector; and (iii) the determinants affecting household decision making and consequently energy demand in the housing sector. Finally, we look into the potential of DSM, platforms in steering energy consumption.

Prof. Dr. Claudia R. Binder
Prof. Dr. Claudia R. Binder holds the chair Swiss Mobiliar Chair for Urban Ecology at ENAC, EPFL and is the head of the laboratory for Human-Environment Relations in Urban Systems (HERUS) at EPFL. She studied natural sciences at ETHZ and has a PhD in environmental sciences and a venia legendi in Human- Environment Systems, both from, ETHZ, Switzerland. From 2006-2009 she was assistant professor for Social and Industrial Ecology at the University of Zurich, Switzerland; from 2009-2011 full professor for Systems Sciences at the University of Graz, Austria; from 2011-2016 she was full professor for Human Environment Relations at the Department of Geography at the University of Munich. She is a founding Member of the “European Group for the Study of Socio-Ecological and Socio-Technical Systems” and from 2013-2016 she was spokeswomen of the interdisciplinary research consortium ForChange dealing with resilience and transitions in social-ecological systems. Since 2016 she is member of the research council of the Swiss National Science Foundation / Division IV. At EPFL, she is the academic director if the interdisciplinary program “design together” and member of the directorate of the Energy Center. Her research interests lie in analyzing, modeling and assessing transitions or urban systems towards sustainability. In doing so, she develops inter-and transdisciplinary methods which are able to depict the key aspects of the ecological and the social systems and moreover the relations, feedbacks, and regulatory mechanisms between them. Her application areas are in energy, phosphorous, food, in the context of urban and peri-urban areas.