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Social Influence and Disruptive Low Carbon Innovations

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SILCI (Social Influence and Disruptive Low Carbon Innovations)

Período documentado: 2018-03-01 hasta 2019-08-31

A low carbon transition requires disruptive innovations to challenge prevailing technologies and practices. Many disruptive low-carbon innovations have been adopted, but in small numbers. Examples include car sharing, smart appliances, digital food hubs, and peer-to-peer energy trading. To mitigate climate change, these and other innovations must diffuse or spread into the mass market. In the absence of strong policy incentives, social communication from adopters to non-adopters is the means by which innovations spread.

The SILCI project seeks to understand how the different mechanisms of social influence work for disruptive low carbon innovations, and whether they can be harnessed to accelerate change. SILCI stands for 'Social Influence and disruptive Low Carbon Innovations'.

The SILCI project has three main objectives.

Objective 1. To understand the attributes of disruptive low carbon innovations valued by actual and potential users.
- By using secondary data, structured elicitation exercises, and a large-scale cross-national survey, I will evaluate innovation attributes and their potential acceptability to mass market adopters.

Objective 2. To assess the strength and mechanisms of social influence in the diffusion of disruptive low carbon innovations.
- By analysing social network structures, online activity, and the spatial distribution of early adopters, I will quantify the relative strength of social influence in diffusion processes.

Objective 3. To test strategies and actions for using social influence to accelerate a low carbon transition.
- By modelling disruptive innovations and social influence effects in urban-scale to global system models, I will test the effectiveness of long-term strategies and actionable policies for accelerating low carbon transitions.
Work in the SILCI project is organised in three Work Packages (WP). Each WP is designed to meet one project objective.


WP1: What are valued attributes of disruptive low-carbon innovations?

Work completed (M1-M24) includes:
- systematic literature review to construct diverse samples of potentially disruptive low-carbon innovations in four domains: mobility, homes, food, energy supply
- mapping of appealing attributes to consumers of disruptive low-carbon innovations based on consumer behaviour and market studies
- workshops involving members of the public to elicit preferences for attributes of disruptive low-carbon innovations using repertory grid techniques
- mini student project testing the sociodemographic correlates of car sharing using large secondary datasets

Work in progress (as of M24) includes:
- mapping of change over time in key attributes of selected disruptive low-carbon innovations
- design and implementation of cross-national questionnaire survey to analyse adopter preferences for disruptive low-carbon innovations


WP2: What role does social influence play in the spread of disruptive low carbon innovations?

Work completed (M1-M24) includes:
- datasets compiling examples of digital innovations implemented in EU countries in three domains: mobility-as-a-service, digital food, and peer-to-peer schemes

Work in progress (as of M24) includes:
- design and implementation of early adopter questionnaire surveys including social network effects for four case study innovations: smart home appliances, mobility-as-a-service, peer-to-peer car sharing, digital food hubs
- development of agent-based simulation model including social network effects on travel and domestic energy preferences (calibrated to Beijing)
- design and implementation of cross-national questionnaire survey to analyse social network effects on adoption of disruptive low-carbon innovations


WP3. How does concurrent diffusion of disruptive innovations lead to a systemic transition?

Work completed (M1-M24) includes:
- implementation of disruptive low-carbon innovations in global systems model to determine potential contribution to climate change mitigation
- review and synthesis of contrasting perspectives on disruptive low-carbon innovations from different scholarly communities

Work in progress (as of M24) includes:
- development of integrative conceptual framework of innovation adoption within systems theories of socio-technical change
Examples of progress beyond the state of the art include:
- foundational work to establish a new research field on disruptive low-carbon innovation, including two international workshops with innovators, financiers, policymakers, and academics (co-organised with Future Earth), and a first-of-its-kind journal Special Issue with contrasting perspectives from leading scholars in a range of fields
- meta-analysis of attributes of disruptive low-carbon innovations across four domains: mobility, homes, food, energy supply
- global systems modelling of consumer-facing disruptive innovations showing the importance of energy-demand transformation for meeting the Paris Climate agreement goals, including prominent inclusion in the IPCC Special Report on Limiting Global Warming to 1.5oC as one of four marker scenarios
- development of agent-based simulation model to capture social influence effects on the adoption of disruptive low-carbon innovations including electric vehicles and smart home appliances

Expected results until the end of the project include:
- meta-analysis of early adopters of disruptive low-carbon innovations across two countries (using cross-national questionnaire survey)
- quantitative modelling of social influence effects on select disruptive low-carbon innovations in a test city (Beijing)
- in-depth case-study analysis of early adoption and social diffusion of four disruptive low-carbon innovations: smart home appliances, mobility-as-a-service, peer-to-peer car sharing, digital food hubs
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