A recipe for the transition to renewable energy

Students of the sustainable development minor in Leiden are diligently posting blogs at the moment. This is in line with our current research projects. The goal of the research of my group is to advise the municipality of Leiden on how to motivate their public institutions to change to a more green energy provider.

In this blog I also intend to advise the municipality of Leiden on how to the municipality and its citizens can be motivated to implement a renewable energy initiative. To do this, I will discuss succes factors of renewable energy initiatives and how they can be used to implement other renewable energy initiatives in Leiden. Since I am the student psychology of the group, I will use a psychological theory to explain this. But first we might need a clear understanding of what the theme is.

1. Start by learning what renewable energy and the energy transition is

For heating, electricity and gas we now mostly use fossil fuels such as oil and coal. These are non-renewable, finite resources and therefore becoming more and more difficult to extract. The results in fossil fuels, becoming too expensive for you, or too damaging for your environment. We need to transit from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. You might want to check out a detailed explanation of the renewable energy concept in the short and easy to understand video below.

        Video by Dane Bliss Design

2. Add the psychological theory of planned behaviour

Now the theme of this recipe is clear, we have to know how the end product (implementing a renewable energy initiative) can be achieved. To motivate or make somebody behave in the desired way, the theory of planned behaviour can be used. An illustration of this is given below this paragraph. The way to behaviour starts with the determinants attitude, subjective norm and perceived behavioural control:

  • Attitude is the degree to which an individual evaluates the behaviour as favourable or unfavourable
  • Subjective norm is the degree to which an individual feels social pressure to perform or not to perform
  • Perceived behavioural control is the ease or difficulty of performing behaviour. This can be past or anticipated obstacles

These three can influence each other (arrows going back and forth between them) and influence the intention to perform a behaviour. The three arrows to intention are the estimation of succeeding. Intention is how hard an individual is willing to try or the degree of effort planned by an individual. Intention directly influences behaviour (the arrow in between the two) The arrow from perceived behaviour control to behaviour stands for the actual measure of succeeding. The rule is: the more favourable the subjective norm and attitude, and greater the perceived control, the stronger the intention to behave is. So to motivate or change behaviour, the determinants should be the target.

The theory of planned behavior by Icek Ajzen

3. Shower with 7 succes factors

Succes factors are needed to know what to aspects to focus on when it comes to renewable energy. There are a number of succes factors that have proven to be helpful in municipalities to produce a significant amount of renewable energy or start a successful renewable energy initiative or project. The succes factors are:

  • Climate change
  • Economic advantages
  • Enthusiasm for technology
  • Local image
  • Political resolutions
  • Social Capital
  • Regional power suppliers

These succes factors influenced the determinants of the theory of planned behaviour positively, which made the intention to implement a renewable energy initiative stronger and consequently changed the behaviour into implementing a successful renewable energy initiative.

4. Mix the psychological theorie and the succes factors

The succes factors can influence determinants of the theory of planned behaviour and consequently end in the desired behaviour and end product. (implementing a initiative of renewable energy) The succesfactors are categorized according to their influence on the relevant determinant. It is also explained how the succesfactors can influence the determinants.

Attitude:

  • Climate change. By supporting renewable energy climate can be mitigated and therefore seen as a favourable evaluation on implementing a renewable energy initiative.
  • Economic advantages. By switching to renewable energy, money can be saved on the long term because extracting resources are mostly free (e.g. extracting sunlight). this way implementing a renewable initiative can be evaluated as favourable.
  • Enthusiasm for technology. This can have a positive influence on introducing renewable energy to other people and therefore make a renewable energy initiative favourable for other people.

Subjective norm:

  • Local image. The municipality can be seen as working on the Paris Agreement and in that way positively evaluated. The municipality can be pressured to perform the initiative to get that positive evaluation.
  • Political resolutions. If a strategy for renewable energy initiatives embedded in law then the municipality feels pressured to make perform this strategy and implement renewable initiatives.

Perceived behavioural control:

  • Political resolutions. Sharing the same strategie makes it easier to implement a renewable energy initiative.
  • Social capital. This is the investment in a relationship or social structure that helps to achieve an individual or collective goal. If you communicate with other parties, it becomes easier to reach the goal of implementing a renewable energy initiative.
  • Regional power suppliers. By effectively using available potentials for example (e.g. producing biogas with geothermal power), it is easier to change to renewable energy.

5. Finish off with integrating the mix in your municipality and bake until an implementation of a renewable energy initiative is made

I hope following this recipe will help the municipality of Leiden to implement a successful renewable energy initiative.

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2 thoughts on “A recipe for the transition to renewable energy”

  1. Dear Anisamouaddine,

    I really like your Blog! We definitely need to focus on the behavior of people instead on just trying to look for more innovative ideas. In Katwijk for example, windmills are seen off shore. They are very small because they are far away, so it is not giving a big problem. An upcoming plan is off shore windmills that are slightly closer towards the coast. This means that they are bigger than the previous ones. There is still a delay in the project, because many citizens in Katwijk are opposing this idea, because of polluting the view of the horizon. So this means that the technology and money is already present in the Netherlands, however, we now need the psychological side of the story and convince the citizens of placing them off shore.

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  2. I like the combination of the succes factors and the psychology behind it. I found the subjective norm very interesting, because i experienced it myself. In my environment, more and more people became vegetarian. Therefore, I also felt the pressure to eat less meat, because i thought that they were going to judge me for eating meat. That’s not true of course, but i think that changing the norm is very important. What do you think that has to be the norm for the municipality’s way of thinking, beside the pressure to get a positive evaluation on the Paris Agreement?

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