Societal challenges of energy use

The research investigates the social and environmental effects of disparities in access to energy and energy use, focussing on two groups: households living in energy poverty, and households using energy effective and smart energy solutions.

Key research questions are:

A.  How do different factors influence the energy-use of households? What is the role of sociodemographic and other factors (such as psychological factors e.g. knowledge or normative social influence and contextual and structural factors e.g. the regulatory framework or the built environment) in shaping energy consumption?

B.  How does energy poverty (lack of access to necessary amount of energy) interact with social exclusion and environmental problems?

C.  What are the key social and environmental impacts of the introduction of new energy schemes, such as energy efficient and smart energy solutions?

The project combines social and technical science perspectives and methods which will mutually inform each other.

The research focuses on the local level, to obtain a fine-grained, micro and mezo level view on the interaction between the investigated phenomena. As a context of local level analysis, it will explore the macro-level circumstances that influence access or lack of access to energy and specific new energy solutions (such as trends in household revenues vs. energy prices, available energy sources, energy efficiency of housing), and analyse, how do relevant national and local policies (climate policy, housing policy, social policy) address social and socio-spatial inequalities in the access of energy, and disparities in access to specific energy solutions.

The research includes literature review, secondary data analysis, semi-structured expert interviews, and case studies conducted in two settlements, based on semi-structured interviews, field research and Life Cycle Assessment.

The two-year research project, launched in December 2017 is funded by the Incubator – Collaborative Research Fund of the Centre for Social Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Project leader: Lea Kőszeghy.

Participants on behalf of the Institute for Sociology: Adrienne Csizmady, Zoltán Ferencz, Péter Baji. Further participants: Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Department of Energy Engineering, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Department for Sociology and Communications, Department Civil Engineering and Architecture (DICAR) of the University of Catania, LAPTA (Laboratorio per la Pianificazione Territoriale e Ambientale), Habitat for Humanity International, Europe, Middle East and Africa  (EMEA) area office.