Policy & Social Studies

Denny_E_05a-webPolicy & Social Studies
Developing insights into human behaviour, attitudes and incentives relating to energy issues and to analyse and inform government energy policy.

Strand Lead: Dr Eleanor Denny


Energy systems around the world are undergoing significant changes due to pressures to increase efficiency, reduce emissions and increase renewable penetrations.  While policy makers, regulators, system operators and industry participants can design sophisticated policies, techniques and technologies for achieving these goals, the primary stumbling block to adoption and success relates to public acceptance and behaviour.  This strand examines a range of issues relating to government policy in the energy area and the examination of public acceptance issues with a view to overcoming barriers to policy implementation.

One element of this research theme involves examining the energy end-user, either through the integration of smart electric devices, such as smart meters and smart appliances, or through appliance purchasing decisions and energy attitudes.  Research to date has examined the Irish smart metering trial and the responses of those participants in the trial to information provided.   Other research is focussed on energy efficiency and involves national surveying on attitudes to energy efficiency measures and estimation of marginal willingness to pay for various technologies.  Further research involves an economic experiment in conjunction with a large Irish electrical retailer on energy product labelling (converting kWh information on existing EU labels to actual running costs) and the impact that this has on appliance purchasing decisions.

In the transport sector research in this theme involves examining public acceptance and knowledge of electric vehicles with a view to informing required price structures and incentives to support Electric Vehicle deployment.  Current research involves a nationwide survey of Irish households to determine their willingness to pay for various electric vehicle characteristics and policy measures.  This research will determine whether resources should be focussed on improvements in vehicle design and the charging network or on associated policy measures.

Quantitative methods are also being used to determine externalities of renewable deployment such as examining the impact of wind farm development on local housing values and the contribution of wind farm construction and operation to job creation, together with the potential for related supply chain jobs in the production of turbines in the future.