At home in transition: 10,000 households, 10 years, 1 complex infrastructure

We consume and sometimes even produce it, energy is crucial to our life at home. Human behaviour drives energy use inside and outside the home. Energy Academy Europe has set up Energysense to investigate how energy use, attitudes and innovation in households can contribute to the energy transition. We will monitor 10,000 households in the Northern Netherlands for ten years and collect data from smart meters, questionnaires, interviews and other sources. With Energysense, we will: pursue research, develop an innovation infrastructure and engage the public. Energysense therefore gives us information to build a sustainable future.
Energy behaviour, attitude and use are shaped by people and the spatial, technological, social and economic context of households. Energysense provides the sophisticated physical and organisational structure necessary for such complex data collection. The data will be used to compile a comprehensive database. We are creating a concrete environment for a large-scale interdisciplinary approach to energy research, and the project can be expanded internationally. Around 20 different research groups from the University of Groningen, Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Delft University of Technology, Tilburg University and Eindhoven University of Technology are already involved. The research project’s main themes are energy consumption and changing expectations, decentralisation and energy networks, and households as agents of change in the transition.

Energysense is a ‘living lab’ of the transition and it is relevant for Europe-wide issues. The EAE is linking Energysense to ongoing international projects that have a similar focus in order to ensure relevance, international visibility and comparability of data. The project directly addresses important questions from the European Commission’s Strategic Energy Technology Plan on energy consumption behaviour and behavioural change. We are fostering an innovation infrastructure, and through it, we are connecting the private sector, society, and outstanding institutions of higher education and research. This enables our business partners to develop and test new energy-related products and services.
Co-creation has been a principle of the project since its early stages: members from around 80 households were asked about what kind of interaction and feedback they would like to receive. We are building engagement around the topic of energy transition: participants are producing behavioural data, getting insights into their energy use and interacting with new technologies. Given this unique setting, Energysense will establish new instruments and measurements for energy research.

Opportunities are pouring in with such a research programme, and we took a number of preparatory steps in 2013 to smoothen the process, which included defining data collection protocols and meetings with potential business partners and the citizens of the provinces of Friesland, Drenthe and Groningen. Awareness of Energysense has been on the rise, especially with appearances at the Energy Convention and in the course of the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the University of Groningen. We started the pilot phase in the final quarter of 2014, and the entire project will be rolled out by 2017.

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