Mind the gap: where are the holes in energy efficiency social sciences research?

08 June 2019
Energy efficiency
Governance
Complexity
Social sciences

Tessa Dunlop presented at the European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy Summer Study held in Giens, France between June 3 and 8, 2019.

The researcher, who works at the Joint Research Centre in Ispra, looked at the social sciences gaps in energy efficiency research in the context of MAGIC's critical examination of EU energy policy. This comes as only 2-3% of the entire energy efficiency body of scientific knowledge in 2018 was listed under the area of 'social sciences', according to Scopus. Dunlop looked at the historic progression of efficiency to its use today, which showed great variation in the way the concept of energy efficiency has been viewed and perceived by various groups and different points in time. She showed that today, the concept of energy efficiency is also conceptualised in different ways, including from techno-economic, methodological and sociological viewpoints. The gaps she highlighted in the literature include knowledge relating to energy efficiency history, ethics, energy justice and importantly, in value judgements. Value judgements in energy efficiency quantification, measures and indicators can be viewed when observing the methodological and sociological literature together. Value judgements in energy efficiency can cause environmental and sociological tradeoffs, for example a detachment from nature, a distraction from other clean energy priorities such as renewable energy, and an unfair economic burden on consumers. For more details see the full article here: 'Mind the gap: A social sciences review of energy efficiency' (open access).