ARC Fund has coordinated the development and implementation of an online survey, in which more than 10,000 citizens from 19 European countries participated. The survey was designed with the support of partners from nine countries involved in the EnergyPROSPECTS project – Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Spain, and The Netherlands. In each country, at least 1,000 citizens completed the questionnaire. Additional 1,000 respondents were recruited from 10 other European countries (Austria, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey, and United Kingdom).
The main objective of the survey was to collect information about opinions, expectations and doubts of European citizens regarding the preferred forms of their involvement in the energy transition. The first part of the survey examined how the respondents reacted to the 2021-2022 energy crisis. They were asked questions about the measures they have undertaken in response to the crisis; about the energy saving activities they continue to perform; about the main reasons or motivations for their energy actions or behaviour; and about the organisers or initiators of the activities they are or have been involved in.
The second part of the survey inquired whether the respondents agreed or disagreed with certain statements. The first set of statements was about the role individuals can play in the energy transition. The second set asked respondents about their own energy consumption behaviour. The third and final group of questions invited respondents to look into the near future (2030) and think about their possible or desired role in the energy system.
The third part of the survey aimed to gather the following information: respondents’ views about the energy system and energy transition; where and how respondents obtain information about these processes; the opinion of respondents about the main actors responsible for the planning and implementation of the energy transition.
The overall findings are not particularly encouraging. For a majority of European citizens who participated in the survey, the main, if not the only, option to fulfil their energy citizenship potential relates to private actions – something they (can) do in their households, or in their daily routines. However, even such engagement is often impeded by (limited) financial resources. Most survey participants expect that in 2030 they will pay more for energy than they do today. Only a small minority think that the process of energy transition is on the right track. The opinions about the performance of institutions and organisations involved in the energy transition are also very critical – none of the actors received a positive assessment.
What can and should be done, in the opinion of survey participants, to encourage and support the involvement of European citizens in the energy transition? The most important measure seem to be tailored financial support programmes that acknowledge the core role of citizens in the energy transition. Other necessary steps are targeted support for vulnerable energy consumers and people living in energy poverty, education and information campaigns, legislative developments regarding the status of individual and collective prosumers of energy from renewable sources, and inclusion of citizens in the design of the policymaking processes.
The results of the survey were analysed by ARC Fund’s team and published in a report Analysis of the Online Survey.
Learning how European citizens perceive and practice energy citizenship will help ARC Fund and its partners at the EnergyPROSPECTS team to develop scenarios for strengthening the role of citizens in the transformation of the energy system in Europe.
EnergyPROSPECTS project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101022492.