Sustainability (May 2022)

Understanding the Citizen’s Role in the Transition to a Smart Energy System: Are We Ready?

  • Mehmet Efe Biresselioglu,
  • Muhittin Hakan Demir,
  • Sebnem Altinci

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 14, no. 5902
p. 5902


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Energy transition is one of the main pillars of the European Union’s climate change strategy suite. The policies set forth by European Union members to support energy transition are transposed into national policies, strategies, and action plans. Energy transition calls for empowering citizens and communities regarding energy-related initiatives. Of particular importance are smart energy systems and their potential for involving individuals and communities in energy transition initiatives. However, not all citizens are willing to invest in renewable energy or smart appliances. Thus, there is a need for implementing smart energy initiatives, which have three main steps, namely, awareness, mindset (readiness for action), and action. Bearing in mind the lack of uniformity in this area across the European Union, this manuscript assesses the levels of awareness, mindset, and action utilizing the results of a comprehensive international survey, the ECHOES project, with respect to demographic and socioeconomic variables, such as age, income level, and education level. The analysis reveals that 58% of respondents from the West European sample demonstrate a high level of awareness, 56% are ready for action, and 63% already demonstrate action. The percentages are similar for the East European sample, with 56% demonstrating a high level of awareness, 55% are ready for action, and 66% already demonstrating action. Overall, women have higher levels of awareness, readiness for action, and action. For both Western and Eastern European countries, education level and income level are important factors for smart energy adoption, with education levels proving to be more significant for East European countries.