Empowering citizens in the energy transition: Behavioral change and the challenge of scaling up Energy Communities

22 Oct 21

Empowering citizens in the energy transition: Behavioral change and the challenge of scaling up Energy Communities

The energy transition will require a systemic change in society, and therefore, social innovation is a necessary component of this change. In contrast to technological or market innovations, social innovations are social in both their means and ends; that is, they bring about social benefits through innovative social processes and organizations.

Energy Communities (ECs) have been showing great potential for the past two decades as a trigger of social innovation and citizen engagement in the energy field. Their relevance has been recently reinforced and formally recognized by EU through the directives 2019/944 and 2018/2001. Thus, although it is widely acknowledged that ECs contribute to a decentralized, inclusive energy transition where citizens are more aware and empowered, they nevertheless currently represent a small share of the EU energy market. Their scaling up to support a more decentralized and flexible Energy Union is proving to be necessary but challenging.

The relevance of ECs and the need to investigate opportunities and barriers to scaling up are relevant to two major challenges for a more sustainable energy system:

  • the decentralization of the energy chain, a basic requirement for RES exploitation, and
  • the role of citizens in prosumer networks that promote increased awareness, and behavioral change.

Jointly Coordinated by COMETS project and the EERA - Economic, Environmental and Social Impacts JP, the session will be animated by representatives of H2020 projects aimed at fostering the empowerement of citizens. The speakers and the audience will seek to find consensus on how to best overcome the challenges for scaling up energy communities and for maximizing the adoption of more sustainable energy practices. 

The session is composed of 4 blocks. The first, animated by COMETS project, focuses on the main challenges with scaling up ECs. The second, animated by NEWCOMERS, takes the community perspective and discusses what aspects get scaled up and how. We pivot to the role of energy communities and governments in accelerating the energy transition in the third block, co-hosted by REScoop.eu representing COMERES project and SONNET project. Finally, we conclude with a look at the micro-level behavioral characteristics of the participants in the 4th block animated by SOCIALRES project.

The session will involve panelists and audience members that include experts, ECs, policy makers, energy companies, regulatory agencies, consumers and prosum


Gregory Winston Gilcrease
PhD Student
University of Turin

Jay Sterling Gregg
Seniore Researcher
European Energy Research Alliance and Technical University of Denmark

Paula Hansen
University of Oxford

Sofia Mulero
Cartif Technology Center

Stavroula Pappa
Project manager

Alessandro Sciullo
University of Turin

Devon Wemyss
Zurich University of Applied Science


Learn more here.

Register here.

All events