Skip to main content

Social innovation Modelling Approaches to Realizing Transition to Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SMARTEES (Social innovation Modelling Approaches to Realizing Transition to Energy Efficiency and Sustainability)

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

The SET-plan roadmap identifies a pressing need for “a robust and transparent analytical framework that provides policymakers with extensive interdisciplinary knowledge and allows them to assess the linkages, synergies, and disconnects between energy technologies and services, infrastructure, markets, business creation and consumer behaviour”. SMARTEES fills this gap by using a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary research and modelling approach which combines studies of social innovation and socio-economic incentive structures, with multi-level agent-based modelling (ABM) of artificial populations of psychologically realistic behaving consumers and agent-based computational economics (ACE). By combining these approaches, SMARTEES delivers a unique policy analysis tool, the SMARTEES policy sandbox, which opens new ways of developing, testing and adapting policy measures and technology diffusion strategies to the needs of a complex and dynamic system of consumers and market actors. The SMARTEES policy sandbox will provide practitioners with a unique “policy flight simulator”, allowing them to implement policies that generate realistic behavioural dynamics that may require adaptations “on the fly”.
This overarching objective was pursued in four different lines of work in SMARTEES.

(1) The focus of analysis in SMARTEES is an in-depth study of social energy innovations in ten carefully selected cases, grouped into five clusters of specific energy innovations. Based on the DoA, the five case clusters have been refined further in the first months of the project and specific work plans for each case have been developed through WP3. The case clusters are Cluster 1 “Holistic, shared and persistent mobility planning” with Zürich as the main reference case and Groningen as the supporting reference case, Cluster 2 “Island renaissance based on renewable energy production” with Samsø as the main reference case and El Hierro as the supporting reference case, Cluster 3 “Alliance for a district regeneration based on energy transitions” with Augustenborg in Malmö as main reference case and Järva in Stockholm as supporting reference case, Cluster 4 “Urban mobility with Superblocks” with Vitoria-Gasteiz as the main reference case and Barcelona as the supporting reference case, and Cluster 5 “Coordinated, tailored and inclusive energy efficiency schemes for fighting fuel poverty” with Aberdeen as main reference case and Timisoara as supporting reference case. For each case cluster, a group of 4-5 follower cities/islands was established, among which a Premium follower city/island was identified. The case representatives were an important source of information in the first reporting period, providing access to documents analysed in the different WPs, providing access to key informants for qualitative interviews, providing input to the design of the simulation models, and organizing field visits for the follower cities in co-organization with WP8 (all ten field visits have been completed within the first reporting period).

(2) One key strain of SMARTEES research is to build a framework model of social energy innovations across Europe from a multidisciplinary perspective.A common ontology for the project was developed based on the input from the partners. Furthermore, a first version of an integrated research white paper (D2.1) and a list of theoretical elements to be included in the modelling (D2.2) were submitted. A working definition of Social Energy Innovation for the SMARTEES consortium was developed through discussions with partners. The ten cases of social energy innovation were analysed in depth through a document analysis and qualitative interviews with 88 key actors. This work has been documented in four deliverables (D3.1-D3.4) of which D3.3 was written as a policy brief about the first conclusions of the work in social energy innovation “in action”.

(3) The second main component of the first reporting period’s work was the groundwork for the social simulation models. First, an analysis of the components of the different modelling traditions represented in SMARTEES by the three modelling teams in Groningen, at James Hutton, and in A Coruna has been conducted and compatibilities identified. Based on this work, a first integrated conceptual modelling approach was presented in D7.1. In close dialogue with the main researchers and the case representatives, a modelling approach was developed for each case study and the generic simulation model refined. The result of this groundbreaking conceptual work resulting in the HUMAT framework is presented in D7.2. Data input requirements for the specification of the models were formulated and a framework survey designed, as well as specific survey applications for the cases, where data input is necessary. Secondary data was screened for usability in the simulation models.

(4) The final work line in SMARTEES prepares the policy scenario work on the simulation models which is to be conducted in the second half of the project. An analysis of policy documents provided by the case partners fed into this process, as well as an additional analysis of the qualitative interviews with the key case actors. A policy workshop with the case representatives was conducted. The results of the policy scenario development work are documented in D5.1.

Gender issues regarding social energy innovation were studied in the analysis across all four lines of work, with a special emphasis on the first and second work stream by having a focus on gender issues in how the social energy innovation developed (which was of particular importance for the case clusters 3 and 5) and how gender as a characteristic of actors is implemented in the simulation models.
In the DoA, SMARTEES describes three dimensions of impact creation for policymakers and stakeholders:

Producing a “policy flight simulator” where policymakers and practitioners can experiment “on the fly” with the implementation of different policies in a realistically responding artificial population offers an unprecedented tool for developing policy in a complex multi-level and multidisciplinary context. This work has been kick-started by developing a concept for the policy sandbox tool early in the project to align it with the developments in the social simulation WP and the policy scenario WP.

Case study cities were chosen to cover a broad geographic, demographic and cultural bandwidth. Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western cities are represented, and respective heterogeneous experience with varyingly ambitious national and regional energy policies ensure a significant relevance of the project output to an extensively high number of potential recipients.

The novel joint exploitation of quantitative and qualitative data in the social simulations, boosting the predictive power of ABM and ACE, will create lasting impact on the respective scientific community for designing and implementing policy support tools. Intensive work has been put on developing the grounds for this impact category in the first half of the project and the project and its scientific achievements have been presented at a number of conferences and workshops.