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ENTRUST publications

ENTRUST: Energy System Transition Through Stakeholder Activation, Education and Skills Development

Funding programme: Horizon 2020 (Grant Agreement Number 657998)

May 2015 – April 2018 | Budget: €3,476,395 | UCC Budget: €1,044,304 

Coordinator & UCC Principal Investigator: Dr Niall Dunphy

Overview  |  Project reports  |  Related publications


Academic papers

Beyond Forecasting: Using a Modified Delphi Method to Build Upon Participatory Action Research in Developing Principles for a Just and Inclusive Energy Transition

Revez A, Dunphy NP, Harris C, Mullally G, Lennon B,  Gaffney C (2020) Beyond Forecasting: Using a Modified Delphi Method to Build Upon Participatory Action Research in Developing Principles for a Just and Inclusive Energy Transition, International Journal of Qualitative Methods: Volume 19 pp. 1-12. doi: 10.1177/1609406920903218

Abstract: Energy transition debates have been characterized by a strong emphasis on the technical implications of shifting away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, with little consideration of social contexts. This is now changing, with a growing emphasis on reconfiguring the social aspects of energy, particularly in terms of introducing more democratic processes into behavior change and energy practice engagements. This article situates itself within these debates and demonstrates the transformative potential of combining participatory action research (PAR) approaches with a modified Delphi method for understanding energy transition issues, particularly beyond forecasting instruments. There remains a dearth in literature combining the Delphi method with PAR; its application in the field of energy transitions is very innovative. PAR draws from grassroots and local-based knowledge, Delphi panels typically focus on the insights from a panel of professional experts. In combining these two approaches, to develop principles for an inclusive and just energy transition, a reflexive form of dialogue emerges that gives voice to what are often considered dissonant or mismatched perspectives. Furthermore, the experimental use of a modified Delphi panel, combined with PAR, offers a strategy to promote knowledge sharing between different groups and to counter potential communication barriers among different actors in society. This article shows how a modified Delphi panel approach is considerably enhanced by combining elements of PAR, raising the potential of Delphi panels beyond forecasting instruments, which often seek to determine the way the future “will be,” toward an envisioning tool that collaboratively seeks to explore the way a low-carbon system “could be,” or perhaps “should be.” The development of energy transition principles, endorsed through the modified Delphi panel, offers a concrete way to enact practices of energy justice within a more democratized energy system.

Citizen or Consumer? Reconsidering Energy Citizenship

Lennon B, Dunphy NP, Gaffney C, Revez A, Mullally GM,  O'Connor P (2020) Citizen or Consumer? Reconsidering Energy Citizenship. Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, Volume 22, Number 2 pp. 184-197 doi: 10.1080/1523908X.2019.1680277

Abstract: The transition to more sustainable energy systems has set about redefining the social roles and responsibilities of citizens. Implicit in this are expectations around participation, though the precise contours of what this might mean remain open. Debates around the energy transition have been skewed towards a normative construct of what it means to be a good citizen, the parameters for which are shaped by predetermined visions of statist and/or market-driven determinations of the energy systems of the future. This article argues that concepts such as energy citizen are co-opted to reflect popular neoliberal discourses, and ignore crucial questions of unequal agency and access to resources. Paradoxically, official discourses that push responsibility for the energy transition onto the citizen-as-consumer effectively remove agency from citizens, leaving them largely disconnected and disempowered. Consequently, energy citizenship needs to be reconceptualised to incorporate more collective and inclusive contexts for action. Considering how much energy consumption occurs in (traditionally female) domestic spheres, do conventional notions of citizenship (especially with regards to its associated rights and duties) need to be recalibrated in order for the concept to be usefully applied to the energy transition?

Community acceptability and the energy transition: a citizens perspective

Lennon B, Dunphy NP, Sanvicente E (2019) Community acceptability and the energy transition: a citizens perspective. Energy, Sustainability and Society, Volume 9, Number 35. doi: 10.1186/s13705-019-0218-z

Abstract: Every energy transition has had its winners and its losers, both economically and in terms of social justice and community cohesion. The current transition is no different given the complex, intersecting matrices of power and experience that influence the key stakeholders and actors involved. Local oppositions to the deployment of renewable energy technologies have been significantly higher than expected. In numerous instances, these oppositions have been in reaction to the disempowerment of local rights and entitlements associated with specific developments. Consequently, there is a clear need for governance structures and organisational formats that are participatory, inclusive and mindful of the lived experiences of local people. Despite the knowledge gaps and financial constraints that continue to persist, how can local communities become empowered to drive project development and meaningfully engage in the low-carbon energy transition?

Participative environmental policy integration in the Irish energy sector

Mullally GM, Dunphy NP, O'Connor P (2018) Participative environmental policy integration in the Irish energy sector. Environmental Science and Policy, Volume 83 pp.71-78. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2018.02.007

Abstract: This article explores the implications of participation for Environmental Policy Integration (EPI), through the window of Irish energy policy, employing concepts of energy democracy and energy citizenship. Our analysis of a consultation process on energy policy identifies distinctive narratives, with different idealisations of energy citizens. We distil the implications of consequent, emergent institutional innovations examining imagined citizens, communication, participation and decision-making linked to policy. We adapt and operationalise the analytical framework of discursive institutionalism (Schmidt, 2008), using explanatory factors for EPI (Runhaar et al., 2017). Relocating the specific consultation in the wider process preceding and following its outcomes we examine the degree, and conditions under which participation advances EPI in the sector. We suggest that energy citizenship constructs and processes of energy democratisation remain highly contingent on context. Nevertheless, principled priority (Lafferty and Hovden, 2003) though often involving trade-offs in practice, ought not be decoupled from processes of democratisation that may underpin its sustainability.

The human factor: Classification of European community-based behaviour change initiatives

Axon S, Morrissey JE, Aiesha R, Hillman J, Revez A, Lennon B,  Salel M, Dunphy NP,  Boo E (2018) The human factor: Classification of European community-based behaviour change initiatives. The Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 182 pp. 567-586. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.01.232

Abstract: Behaviour, practices and culture constitute a powerful human factor in the energy system; in particular the interactions between technologies, practices and norms lock individuals in to certain patterns of (often inefficient) energy use. Consequently, behaviour change has gained traction amongst policymakers as a key area of intervention given the impact energy-related behaviours have on climate change. Given the increasing emphasis within policy perspectives in the European Union, it is surprising that a gap in understanding of the success factors of behaviour change initiatives remains. This paper addresses this gap by identifying and characterising behaviour change initiatives across five European countries (the UK, Ireland, France, Italy, and Spain). The paper provides insights into the success factors and commonly encountered barriers to behaviour change initiatives. Initiatives are classified into 6 broad categories (community-based interventions; information and awareness based interventions; eco-districts; show-case events; energy switching; and smart-technology focused interventions) ...

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme for Research and Innovation under Grant Agreement no 657998

Cleaner Production Promotion Unit

G.03 Environmental Research Institute, University College Cork, Lee Road, Cork T23 XE10, Ireland