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Experts and stakeholders focus on human factor in energy in Brussels

25 June 2014

On June 24th 2014 the University of Groningen priority areas Sustainable Society and Energy organized a seminar in Brussels during the Sustainable Energy Week together with Energy Valley and the Energy Academy Europe. The seminar Promoting successful energy transition: the human factor demonstrated the power of an integrated approach to energy transition, where research, policy and society can all gain from sharing insights.

At the meeting in Brussels, the main focus was on the human factor in energy transitions. The event gave insight in the importance of looking into the human factor in order to make energy transitions more sustainable. Experts from research, policy and the field shared best (and worst) practices of behavioural change in relation to energy and sustainability.

Speaker from the European Commission, Mr. Paul Verhoef (Head of Unit “Renewable energy sources” in DG Research and Innovation) stated: "EC acknowledges the emergence of the consumer as an active player in the energy system. Public engagement is a key aspect of the energy system transition. Consumers as a group need specific attention”. The EC invited the network to come with further input in this area in the next six months. Researchers in Groningen and their partners are ideally placed to respond to this invitation and to welcome others to join in consolidating research and translating results into policy-relevant insights.

The meeting as a whole illustrated why the European Commission values the contributions of Social Sciences and Humanities research to address the energy challenges faced by Europe. The success of this event also heralds an increased role of SSH-research in the working programmes 2016 and 2017 of Horizon 2020 that are currently being prepared by the European Commission.

Among other experts, environmental psychologist Linda Steg from the University of Groningen showed how understanding human psychology can lead to powerful interventions: "Next to values, behaviour in the past is important for an environmental self-identity. If we remind people of the good things they have already done, of their good behaviour, it is more likely they will tend to do it again. Furthermore, we’ve shown that ‘acting green’ can enhance your social status".

By choosing to combine an interdisciplinary approach with the participation of representatives from a number of organizations, inspiring cross-overs have been presented to the participants. The event attracted representatives from the European Commission, European Parliament, universities, NGO’s, businesses and SME’s, regional offices and other stakeholder organizations. It was full house and the debate was lively. Bringing the human factor into the energy transition debate was a truly innovative angle.

Additional information:
- Slides presentation Paul Verhoef
- Slides presentation Linda Steg
- Slides presentation John Thogersen
- Slides presentation Harry van Ommen
- Slides presentation Vera Dalm
- Slides presentation Floor de Jong
- Slides presentation Elwin Ter Horst

For more information contact:
University of Groningen
Managing Director Sustainable Society
Sharon Smit
+31 050 363 6352

Dr. J.A. (Anne) Beaulieu
Coordinator Energy Research
University of Groningen and Energy Academy Europe
+31 50 363 4903

Last modified:03 February 2020 4.32 p.m.

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