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Energy transition awareness: Can it guide local transition planning on islands?
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Wind Energy.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7604-9383
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Wind Energy.
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2023 (English)In: Heliyon, E-ISSN 2405-8440, Vol. 9, no 9, article id e19960Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The consequences of climate change and reduced energy security are becoming increasingly apparent, especially on islands. At the same time, the energy transition is quickly spreading and its value to society becoming clearer. Two main obstacles to this transition, rigid policy and lack of local understanding, are particularly troubling on islands, where national policies often aren't flexible enough to consider local particularities and residents are exposed to different energy realities from those on the mainland. Using exploratory interviews and a survey on four islands, this article considers island residents' awareness of energy transition concepts and presents how it interacts with, and is potentially influenced by, relevant energy policies at the national level. The paper presents the comparative results for the geographically, demographically and climatologically diverse islands of Gotland (Sweden), Lesvos (Greece), La Réunion (France) and Mallorca (Spain) to focus on European island energy transitions. Differences were noted between the islands' residents with regards to awareness of and willingness to use specific energy transition tools or to join activities like energy communities. Additionally, differences were noted between the islands for what was the most important reason to consider when using demand response, though ‘Ease of use’ was important across all. The potential reasons for differences among the islands are discussed and suggestions to increase consumer engagement with energy transition activities on islands are given. Overall, the results show that while awareness of energy concepts isn't greater on these European islands, interest in prospective transition actions was high and provide an opportunity for planners to capitalize on. However, if there are potential policy obstacles, these higher levels of interest cannot ensure higher levels of willingness to engage. Taken together, these two findings indicate the potential for an acceleration of transition activity on these islands, and potentially beyond, should engagement with island residents be increased along with review, and amendment of policies impeding it.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2023. Vol. 9, no 9, article id e19960
Keywords [en]
Decarbonisation, Islands, Energy transition, Energy awareness, Consumer engagement
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-510327DOI: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e19960ISI: 001140589000001PubMedID: 37809593OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-510327DiVA, id: diva2:1797442
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020, 824395Available from: 2023-09-14 Created: 2023-09-14 Last updated: 2024-02-29Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Energy planning for islands: Guiding island energy transition and decision-making
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Energy planning for islands: Guiding island energy transition and decision-making
2024 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The importance and benefits of transitioning away from fossil fuel based energy systems is becoming ever clearer. The transition is especially crucial for geographic islands that typically have limited, or no, access to mainland energy networks. This limited access means that they must rely on costly, economically and environmentally, imported fossil fuels for energy production. This isolation and reliance on imported fuels makes islands particularly energy insecure, which is only expected to worsen because of climate change. At the same time, much of the current guidance and policy developed to help plan for islands’ energy transition is based on the conditions and circumstances present on the mainland or on energy planning that focuses primarily on technical or economic parameters. To plan for a smoother, more successful transition away from fossil fuel based energy production on islands, more data is needed about islanders themselves and their local circumstances as well as planning guidance flexible enough to fit the variable needs of island planners that goes beyond a techno-economic focus.

In this PhD Thesis and in response to these transition issues, an energy planning platform, REACT-DECARB, has been developed to specifically address the needs of island energy planners. This platform seeks to be holistic in its approach to facilitate the island energy transition planning procedure by considering typical island characteristics and energy transition processes while also including key technical, social, environmental and economic dimensions and granting planners flexibility in how they incorporate them. Additionally, surveys and interviews with island residents are conducted to gain an understanding of islanders’ motivations, priorities and awareness in relation to energy and energy transition as well as to determine if these can be of guidance to island energy transition planners.

The applications of the REACT-DECARB platform on geographic islands representing eight different countries from around the EU with varying populations, land areas and climates identified energy transition opportunities and obstacles specific to the islands where the platform was applied as well as to other islands seeking to transition their energy systems. Moreover, these applications of the planning platform demonstrated its ability to help island planners in the development of holistic energy transition paths. The platform takes island energy transition planning beyond a focus on techno-economics by including a wider range of planning dimensions allowing them to decide the methods best suited to their island’s needs. Further, the interactions with island residents demonstrated that their relationships to energy could be informative in the development of energy transition plans as well as likely being critical to their success. Islanders’ understandings, motivations, priorities and awareness were found to be not only directly useful in guiding planners during the designing of island energy transition plans but can also serve to inform planners in how best to educate local residents about and engage them in local energy transition projects. Ultimately, the work in this Thesis contributes to the efforts to make sure islands’, and islanders’, needs and perspectives are considered and included as a part of the wider energy transition.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2024. p. 58
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 2358
Keywords
Islands; Energy planning; Renewable Energy; Energy transition; Decarbonisation
National Category
Energy Systems
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-510328 (URN)978-91-513-2014-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2024-03-13, E22, Cramérgatan 3, Visby, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020, 824395
Available from: 2024-02-15 Created: 2024-01-15 Last updated: 2024-02-15

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