Helmholtz Alliance ENERGY-TRANS
Objective of the alliance
The objective of the Helmholtz Alliance ENERGY-TRANS is to promote the transformation of the German energy system by providing action-oriented knowledge. In the context of this transformation towards more efficiency and an increased use of renewable sources of energy and the innovations this implies, the demand- and consumer-sector plays a vital role that calls for further research. In order to cover the social-technical energy system adequately comprehensive, an interdisciplinary approach was chosen within ENERGY-TRANS.
Within the Helmholtz Alliance ENERGY-TRANS, the Environmental Psychology Division of the Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg focuses on different problems in the research field „User Behaviour and Demand Management” (project management: Prof. Dr. Ellen Matthies)
Incentives to promote investments in regenerative energy
The project focuses on investment decisions in the field of energy efficiency. High-impact (and mostly cost-intensive) decisions regarding energy efficient technology will be analyzed (e.g. investments in renewable energy systems). Based on a field study and decision experiments relevant factors for the design of incentives are to be identified (e.g. funding structure, information, communication channels). The goal of these investigations is to give recommendations for the design of policy measures.
Identification and support of different types of private households in the domain of electricity saving behaviour
In order to support electricity saving behavior, it is crucial to provide private households with information about types of behavior that save the most electricity and on how to implement these. This could be achieved in a cost-effective way via an internet portal. Here, information should be presented according to a household’s specific characteristics. From a psychological point of view, for an implementation and stabilization of behavior patterns to become more probable, it is also important to take into consideration the stage of change a household currently is in with regard to the target behaviors.
The aim of the thesis is to identify multiple types of households which differ significantly in regard to particular relevant electricity consumption behaviors due to differences in equipment and / or specific usage thereof. Within this work, special consideration is given to psychological stage models of behavior change. The subsequent preparation of household-specific behavioral recommendations is then guided by the principle of utilizing each household’s electricity saving potential as much as possible. The project is implemented in cooperation with the utility company DEW21 (http://www.dew21.de/).
Above and beyond technical and socio-demographic determinants used to identify different target groups, psychological factors play a major role when designing effective interventions for pro-environmental behavior. Based on findings of the previous project “Identification and support of different types of private households in the domain of electricity saving behaviour”, this project analyzes the effects of framing electricity saving information in terms of monetary vs. ecological reasons. Throughout a year, an internet portal repeatedly offers problem- und behavior-related information on electricity usage and the replacement of inefficient household appliances. Subsequently, short- and long-term effects on motivation and behavior will be evaluated. Furthermore spillover effects on other behavioral domains as well as the acceptability of climate protection policies will be investigated. The project is implemented in cooperation with the utility company DEW21 (http://www.dew21.de/).
Private households cause a relevant amount of CO2 emissions. Especially households with adolescents consume a high amount of energy, in particular electricity. At the same time households are domains where a reduction of energy consumption can be achieved successfully by changing certain behavior patterns.
Psychological research about human perception, motivation and behavior plays a key role in the investigation of everyday consumption behaviors. Therefore, environmental psychology leads back to a long tradition and provides useful approaches for investigations in the energy sector.
The project examines determinants of electricity consumption in households with adolescents. Recommendations for interventions targeting adolescents are developed.
In the field of grid-connected PV systems, private households are increasingly involved in the expansion of renewable energy sources. The project aims to investigate the impact of managing their own electricity on household’s electricity consumption.
There are substantial changes for the electricity production resulting from the energy transition and the associated expansion of renewable energies. Private households, who invested in renewable energy sources for their home, are no longer only consumers of electricity but also producers.
Taking the example of private households with photovoltaic systems, this research project investigates the impacts of managing self-produced electricity on the use of the resource electricity by households. Different scopes of action as well as psychological factors are studied.
Well-targeted use of battery electric cars (BEVs) instead of internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs) offers - in combination with renewable energies - great potential for a sustainable and energy-efficient mobility. In this project, the psychological barriers that hinder German households to adopt BEVs despite the ambitious German government targets (one million BEVs until 2020) will be examined.