Enabling the Energy Transition – What drives energy choices in Europe?

Delivered under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, the ENABLE.EU project attempted to understand the key drivers of individual and collective energy choices, including the shift to presumption (where energy consumers start to become also energy producers).

The focus of Cambridge Econometric’s contribution to the project was to use E3ME to measure the national-level impacts of changing micro-behaviour, and assess the extent to which such policy can help progress towards the EU’s Energy Union goals.

Through the development of scenarios that explored policy futures targeted at influencing energy consuming behaviour of households, the aim was to help policy makers understand the consequences of possible transitions and equip them with a level of foresight of potential hurdles.

Research methods included a pan-European household survey, randomised controlled trials, interviews, participatory foresight exercises and econometric modelling.

Key findings

  • The findings resulted in a selection of recommendations related to energy transition governance, industrial decarbonisation, energy efficiency, decentralised energy systems, and low-carbon mobility.
  • The analysis showed that, by themselves, the changes in the household sectors have limited impacts on the power sector, and consequently on the CO2 emissions from electricity generation.
  • Additional policy measures targeting the power sector (e.g. higher carbon taxation, support schemes and probably direct control mechanisms), as well as a large-scale transition in industry to cleaner technologies, and economy-wide improvements in energy efficiency are needed to achieve the energy-climate targets.
  • The results also underline that, while both poor and rich households see a positive net change in their real incomes, resulting from the transition in the household sector, the relative change in real income is higher for the poorer households. This supports that the energy transition does not need to affect low income groups negatively, provided that policy packages are designed in ways that safeguard real incomes and spread the cost of government policy in a just manner across the economy.