Social innovations for the energy transition

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Read this inspiring work giving empirical and theoretical evidence on the necessity of local actions to achieve our energy transition goals.

The Joint Research Center of the European Commision just released a research paper on “Social innovations for the energy transition”. Technological and environmental innovations implemented through a top-down approach are necessary but not sufficient for the energy transition. Indeed, the energy transition is socially embedded. Environmental problems and our energy practices are the result of interactions in different complex societal systems. Techno-managerial innovations would therefore not be a panacea, a one-size-fits-all solution for the energy transition. In the long-term strategy for a climate-neutral, competitive, clean and modern Europe, the European Commission suggests as a top priority to “recognise and strengthen the central role of citizens and consumers in the energy transition, foster and support consumer choices reducing climate impact and reap collateral societal benefits improving their quality of life”. Social innovations then have a great potential to accelerate the energy transition while tackling societal problems. The authors find that these social innovations find their greatest potential in energy production, energy efficiency and energy literacy. These social innovations have emerged naturally with the arrival of renewables, notably through the development of small-scale renewable energy technologies, battery solutions. Consumers are becoming prosumers, consumers who produce their own energy. This inspiring paper gives empirical and theoretical evidence on the necessity of local actions to achieve our goals. 

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