Emerging enlightened selective self-interest trends in society: Consequences for demand and supply of renewable energy

Baas, L and Magnusson, D and Mejía-Dugand, S and Pizano-Castillo, M (2014) Emerging enlightened selective self-interest trends in society: Consequences for demand and supply of renewable energy. Project Report. Linköping University.

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    Energy supply has for a long time primarily been a question of central management with little communication between producer and consumer. Heating, electricity and other services have been produced by public corporations with little room for alternative solutions. However, this has started to change, through grassroots movements aimed at greater degrees of self-sufficiency in energy production. The trend is clear in both Sweden and internationally. This study focuses on grassroots movements, to understand the determinants for up-scaling towards greater self-sufficiency. We are interested in understanding the driving forces behind different types of communities with high ambitions on sustainability and self-sufficiency. The study was conducted in two phases. In phase one, we have studied a total of five communities in Denmark, Germany and the UK that have taken extensive measures to increase energy selfsufficiency, in order to understand how and why they were created and how they work today. In phase two, we have conducted a web-based questionnaire to residents in the Swedish ecovillages, to understand the reasons for moving there and the experience of living in the villages. The overall aim of the study is to understand citizens' involvement in sustainable communities and analyse what this could mean regarding current supply and demand for sustainable energy. The results from phase one, where interviews were conducted with key stakeholders in renewable communities, shows that these communities took their steps towards more sustainability due to either momentous events, such as the oil crises of the 1970s, or through national "energy competitions"; they started because of particular events. Of paramount importance for successful projects was a close cooperation between municipalities and citizens, particularly through civic ownership. It created interest, transparency and security in the projects. The development also created new jobs, attracting new jobs to the communities because of the expertise that were there. Although there are great advantages of the high degree civil activity it has been proved to be more time consuming. In all cases they have managed to become essentially self-sufficient in renewable energy, in one case, they produce up to 500 percent of their electricity needs, but a further challenge has been to adapt the independent systems to existing centralized systems, adapted to different conditions. The questionnaire in phase two was sent out to 17 ecovillages. We received a response rate of approximately 30 percent and the questions concerned for example motives moving to the ecovillage, environmental interest and perceived satisfaction with the accommodation. The results showed that residents are well educated with a great interest in the environment and that, although in many cases it expressed that sacrifices must be made on the basis of the accommodation, it is worth it. The replies expressed few social conflicts but that the technical systems resulted in work and discussions. In some cases it seems as the technical systems were off-gauge from the start and something that had to be handled a long time to come. The technical system performance is something that is very important for whether residents feel comfortable in village or not. The villages started as movements willing to do something different. The results from the two studies show, among other things, the importance of communication and inclusion of residents. People are also willing to adapt to new situations as long as it does not affect the comfort too much or if it is for a good cause. However, there is considerable knowledge among all these communities that should be utilised in other contexts.

    Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
    Creators: Baas, L and Magnusson, D and Mejía-Dugand, S and Pizano-Castillo, M
    Projects: Research -- Forskning
    Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2014 14:02
    Last Modified: 16 Sep 2014 11:23
    URI: http://arkiv.energiinstituttet.dk/id/eprint/247

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