About the talk:
Given the urgency and complexity of energy transitions, it is vital that research into energy behaviour does not stop at the user side of the meter, but considers the wider behaviours across all sectors that play a role in shaping energy systems. Currently, behavioural research relating to energy predominantly focuses on consumers, and furthermore on their energy efficiency and conservation behaviours. It is critical to broaden the scope of what is considered to be energy behaviour to encompass all human actions – including the acquisition, use and divestment of energy-related technologies and materials – that affect how energy is produced, transformed and consumed to achieve products and services. The behaviour (and ‘energy culture’) of those who reinforce or re-shape energy end-use consumption, including the energy industry, policy makers and innovators, is of equal if not greater interest to that of consumers. This broader focus is an important and legitimate area of inquiry for social scientists and interdisciplinary teams.
About the Speaker:
Janet Stephenson is a social scientist with a particular interest in societal responses to environmental challenges. She is the Director of the Centre for Sustainability at the University of Otago, which carries out interdisciplinary collaborative research in agriculture, food, energy and environment. She leads the 4-year research programme Energy Cultures 2 which examines opportunities to support energy-related behaviour change in households, businesses and transport and a research team member in the 6-year project Renewable Energy and the Smart Grid looking at the potential for household uptake of photovoltaics, electric vehicles and demand-wide management. Janet has also carried out research on the social acceptance of renewable electricity developments in New Zealand. She is a member of the Trust Board of New Zealand’s National Energy Research Institute.