Perspective

The roles of users in shaping transitions to new energy systems

  • Nature Energy 1, Article number: 16054 (2016)
  • doi:10.1038/nenergy.2016.54
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Abstract

Current government information policies and market-based instruments aimed at influencing the energy choices of consumers often ignore the fact that consumer behaviour is not fully reducible to individuals making rational conscious decisions all the time. The decisions of consumers are largely configured by shared routines embedded in socio-technical systems. To achieve a transition towards a decarbonized and energy-efficient system, an approach that goes beyond individual consumer choice and puts shared routines and system change at its centre is needed. Here, adopting a transitions perspective, we argue that consumers should be reconceptualized as users who are important stakeholders in the innovation process shaping new routines and enacting system change. We review the role of users in shifts to new decarbonized and energy-efficient systems and provide a typology of user roles.

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Acknowledgements

This project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no. 613194. We would also like to thank our many colleagues in the transition and innovation communities, the EU-Innovate EU project (http://www.euinnovate.com/en), the Science Policy Research Unit of the University of Sussex and the Department of Innovation Sciences of the Eindhoven University of Technology, who have commented on earlier versions and contributed to our thinking.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex, Jubilee Building, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9SL, UK.

    • Johan Schot
  2. Institute of Social Studies, University of Tartu, Lossi 36, 51003 Tartu, Estonia.

    • Laur Kanger
  3. School of Innovation Sciences, Eindhoven University of Technology, PO Box 513, 5600 MB Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

    • Geert Verbong

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Johan Schot.