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Energy CHOices supporting the Energy union and the Set-plan

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ECHOES (Energy CHOices supporting the Energy union and the Set-plan)

Reporting period: 2018-05-01 to 2019-10-31

Project objectives
ECHOES aims to support policy-makers and stakeholders with comprehensive information, data and knowledge from social science about how the Energy Union can be implemented. ECHOES builds on the transdisciplinary study of three technological foci: (1) smart energy technology, (2) energy in buildings, and (3) electric mobility. In doing so, ECHOES has four main objectives: (I) Creating understanding, (II) tackling cross-cutting issues through multi-disciplinary expertise, (III) provision of policy-ready recommendations, and (IV) making impact. The ECHOES project establishes a substantial dissemination and exploitation strategy to introduce the project’s findings into the important policy making fora. ECHOES functions also as an enabler of future behavioural research for the energy transition through making the data collected available to the public.
The project was devided into three phases:

Phase I: Concept and Data.
The result of this stage of the project were four main deliverables: (a) D3.1 which summarized the state-of-the-art for existing social science knowledge about the three technology foci from the three ECHOES perspectives. (b) D2.1 which explored the landscape of available databases with social science data relevant for the Energy Union. (c) D3.3 which analysed the state-of-policies with respect to utilization of social science insights in policy design. (d) D4.1 which summarizes the results of two meta-analyses conducted to consolidate the knowledge on individual drivers of energy decisions in the ECHOES technology foci and the impact of identity components on environmental decisions.

Phase II: Empirics.
In the second stage, individual and focus group interviews were implemented to deepen the understanding of energy related decision-making by studying qualitative factors, such as values and ethics. A large multi-national survey (representative for 31 countries, 18.000 respondents) and psychological experiments were used where the potential impact of the driving factors was quantifiable. Case studies were conducted to identify the complex contextuality of energy decisions. Finally, a netnography study was conducted to study how energy related decisions are shaped by people’s expressions in new media. This resulted in eight deliverables, a public database, four large quantitative datasets, and provided the input to the final stage of ECHOES: (a) D4.2 presents the complete results of all data collection conducted under the perspective of individuals acting in groups. (b) In D5.1 the multinational survey data to produce six distinct lifestyle profiles and their distribution in Europe. In depth analysis were conducted in six countries, where focus groups with extremely high and low energy users were conducted. (c) D5.2 presented the concept of “energy memories” which links established concepts of energy cultures to collective memories. Case studies from five countries established the usefulness of taking historic events which shaped the energy memory of a culture into consideration when energy behaviour of people is to be understood. (d) In D5.3 the results of 11 comparative case studies on initiatives of collective energy actions were presented. (e) For D5.4 members of energy collectives in six countries were interviewed about the drivers of their initiatives and the barriers they encounter. (f) D6.1 and (g) D6.2 both build on 67 individual and 15 focus group interviews conducted in six European countries with representatives of formal social units. Similarities and differences in drivers of energy decisions for different types of actors were studied (D6.2) and the insights translated into policy recommendations (D6.1). (h) D6.3 finally, studied another 13 cases of best collective energy practices of different levels of social units in seven countries with a special focus on the interaction between top-down and bottom-up dynamics.

Phase III: Synthesis and Impact.
In this final stage, the project’s results were brought from academia to practice. Six deliverables can be assigned to this stage of the project: (a) D2.3 formulates a set of Key Performance Indicators the ECHOES project suggests for monitoring the Energy Transitions in the Energy Union from a social science perspective. (b) D6.4 documents the results of a policy workshop conducted towards the end of the project in Izmir, Turkey. (c) D6.5 presents a decision tree algorithm derived from the ECHOES results in WP6, aimed at supporting governance and monitoring of the Energy Transition. (d) D7.1 is a report destiling and consolidating the findings from the three empirical WPs 4-6 from an overarching perspective. (e) D7.2 documents the results of the foresight process and of two stakeholder workshops. (f) The final deliverable D7.3 formulates three overarching and 39 specific policy recommendations based on solid ECHOES findings. It also demonstrates how specific policy documents on the EU and national level could be changed to be more in line with ECHOES findings.
ECHOES implemented a comprehensive analysis of existing social science knowledge about the factors involved from three analysis levels (micro, meso, and macro) applied to three key energy technologies (electric mobility, smart energy technology, and energy in buildings). This state-of-the-art analysis was contrasted with an analysis of how such knowledge is already used in policy-making. In this first stage, ECHOES has reviewed 597 scientific papers in the literature review, screened 84 international and national databases for which social science factors are included, reviewed more than 100 policy documents for inclusion of social science knowledge and mapping the potential, and conducted two meta-analyses with a total of 227 papers included. Afterwards, identified knowledge gaps were addressed with an unprecedented empirical work across social science disciplines, across a wide selection of data collection methods (qualitative and quantitative), and across all European countries (including also Turkey, Norway, and Switzerland).

The activities in stage one and two have produced a rich body of results by providing a much improved understanding of how factors usually researched in social science impact decisions relevant for the Energy Union. Furthermore, it was investigated how these factors interact with eachother, and with technological, regulatory, and investment related aspects. As a project with a strong focus on conducting social science research feeding into the Energy Union, the activities in ECHOES were in itself a strong contribution to stregthening the capacity of European institutions to conduct research together for a decarbonized energy system. The knowledge, methods, and research networks created in ECHOES strengthen Europe’s position as a leader in social science energy research and thus contribute under the Research and Innovation pillar. However, also the transfer of the knowledge created to policy-makers and stakeholders in the energy has been an important activity in ECHOES, especially by giving targeted feedback to the further development of the SET-Plan (and its action plan).