ENRGISED.

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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The Netherlands’ commitment to discontinue natural gas use by 2050 requires the cooperation of 7 million households. Technologically, the solutions are already there. You can install an all-electric heat pump, heat grids can be built, solar panels can be installed, and there are more options. However, many people do not know how to choose, what to choose, or when to switch, and are waiting for others to take the first steps.

In the ENRGISED project, Industrial Design Engineering (IDE) researchers from the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) together with Social Science and Computer Science colleagues of the University of Utrecht investigate social contagion of decision making, or in other words, how people are influenced by others in their networks to switch to renewable energy sources.

The strategy of contagion will be broken down into three stages of identity, activate and accelerate (see Figure 1), each with a distinct research question:

  • Stage 1: Identify seed households. How to identify which households in a certain neighbourhood network can be responsive targets to stimuli?
  • Stage 2: Activate the seed households. What kinds of stimuli (social, economic, design) can increase the likelihood that the seed households adopt alternative sources of energy?
  • Stage 3: Accelerate the social contagion: a chain reaction of behavioural transmission among network neighbours. How likely is it that the transition of a specific household results in a cascading effect (of adoptions) among other households within that neighbourhood network? What system interventions can increase this likelihood?

To address this major challenge the project will use a three-step research design structure (see Figure 2) to map, analyse, and model the social relationships between households and the interdependency in decision making. This information will be used to design social interventions and tools to accelerate the energy transition in networks.

The role of the project research team is primarily to develop an intervention strategy in which citizens mobilise each other and help make alternatives acceptable. This will include energy transition tools, a toolkit for general use, and a transition design framework. Figure 3 illustrates the different actions that will be undertaken to implement the entire project.

With local partners, this strategy and toolkit will be tested in field trials. The objective is to make energy transitions contagious. Ultimately, this would result in social innovations that actualise the Netherlands’ commitment to discontinue natural gas use by 2050.

From the ENRGISED team.

 

The Netherlands transition away from Natural Gas!

The Netherlands has committed to discontinuing natural gas use by 2050. This requires the cooperation of millions of households; in The Netherlands 7.9 million households use 10 billion m3 (bcm) of natural gas. To address this major challenge, the project ENRGISED plans to develop an intervention strategy in which citizens mobilize each other and help make alternatives acceptable. The strategy follows three phases: (1) identify, (2) activate and (3) accelerate.

Phase 1: Identification

In this phase, specific households (nodes) in a social network are identified whose actions may influence others to act too, i.e., the seed nodes.

Phase 2: Activation

In the second phase, households are activated to move away from natural gas use and adopt a renewable energy source. In this phase, we will use action research and design for behaviour change methods.

Phase 3: Acceleration

In phase 3 we will work from the concept of social contagion, a chain reaction of influence: subsequent decisions by neighbours will accelerate a network-wide transition.

ENRGISED

ENRGISED project is a collaboration between the Delft University of Technology (TUDelft) and the University of Utrecht (UU). The project will investigate social contagion of decision making for renewable energy. Or in other words, how people are influenced by others in their networks to switch to renewable energy sources.

The project aims to support the national transition away from natural gas use, by co-creating an intervention strategy with key stakeholders that can be used by municipalities to mobilize households. The idea is to make these alternatives more acceptable, more within reach and more accesible from a household perspective. From the concept of social contagion we will look then at how one can mobilize another and promote change through a social network-driven process.

 

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Phase 1: Identification

We will identify households characteristics needed to understand where to start activating people. We will use qualitative user research and context mapping to understand Motivation, Opportunity and Ability of people. Second, we will determine the influence networks, adoption thresholds and determination of whose actions may influence others to act, i.e., the seed nodes.

Phase 2: Activate

We will study how to activate the seed households to adopt alternative sustainable energy sources, using behaviour change models and participatory design. We aim to develop tools for behaviour change that can subsequently influence others, or make use of social networks. In this we do not focus on individuals only but on tools for networks of people.

Phase 3: Accelerate

We will study how to accelerate social contagion through the use of transition design methods to develop tools. We will test whether social contagion led to a chain reaction of subsequent decisions by influenceable neighbours and the acceleration of a network-wide transition