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The human factor in the energy system


Specific challenge:To better understand the human factor: Managing the transition to a more sustainable energy system is a challenging task, going beyond mere technological aspects. Consumer's and other actor's awareness, attitudes, risk perception, consumption behaviour and investment decisions have a strong influence on the development of our energy system and are a crucial factor in the dissemination of energy relevant technologies, but are on the other hand shaped by the social environment. We need to explore the factors triggering the behaviour of the different stakeholders, including consumers, policy makers, industrial strategists, regulators, technology developers, investors, etc.. This includes the question, whether gender aspects play a significant role in the development of the energy system. Furthermore we need to develop appropriate means to facilitate and actively stimulate the public engagement in transforming our energy system and to foster the dialogue with the public on this matter. 

Developing the skills needed: The ambitious goals of the SET-Plan require the mobilisation of appropriate resources. This applies in particular to the availability of skilled workforce. As recommended by the SET-Plan Education and Training Roadmap we need to foster European cooperation in this area by building European networks, both in the university based education sector and in the vocational education and training sector, establishing close links to business and research.

Scope: Proposals should cover one or several of the following aspects:

  • Awareness, perceptions, behaviour and attitudes to energy relevant technologies (including nuclear) and to transition pathways to a low carbon economy of actors in the energy system, including perception of risks and benefits. Analysis of the role and the significance of gender aspects related to energy and its consequences for the development of an efficient and reliable low carbon energy system.
  • Public engagement in the transformation process to a more efficient, low carbon energy system. Development of measures, methods and tools to launch and stimulate a dialogue with the public on energy policy and energy innovation on European level.
  • Development and support of a) vocational education and training networks in domains with potential shortages/domains needing new or upgrade of existing competences or b) networks linking relevant actors in the field of energy related education and training such as universities, other research institutions, business etc. to address knowledge, skills and competences needs and gaps. Both types of networks need to be in line with the scope described in the SET-Plan Education and Training Roadmap and need to involve the relevant stakeholders along the technology value chain[1]. (appropriate instrument: Coordination and Support Action)

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 2 to 4 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact: Support to the implementation of the SET-Plan by better understanding the complex links, interdependencies and interactions of the various actors in the energy system, their motivation, attitudes and perceptions. Development of options and strategies to address these factors with a view to facilitate and support the transition towards a sustainable energy system.

Development of strategies and measures to enhance public engagement in this transformation process and to establish a structured dialogue with the public on this matter including Europeanization of existing national energy dialogues.

Support the provision of appropriately skilled workforce to implement the SET-Plan by identification of needs and gaps, and by improving and accelerating the existing education and training activities in the vocational and in the university sector.

Type of action: Research & Innovation Actions, Coordination and Support Actions

[1] Networks funded under this topic may cover all kinds of energy technologies. However, their centre of gravity has to be in the areas addressed in the calls for proposals ‘Competitive Low Carbon Energy’ and ‘Smart Cities and Communities’.