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Toggle through the accordions below to download all of our project outputs, spanning our succinct Energy Reads, project information, and publications and deliverables.

Throughout the project, SONNET is producing a series of so-called ‘Energy Reads’ that summarise the key points from its diverse catalogue of research into concise, accessible, evidence-based publications. Each one is paired with a complementary ‘infographic’ that tells the story visually.

 

SONNET Energy Read #2: Key findings from Case Studies exploring how social innovations in energy shape – and are shaped by – larger systems

November 2021 – Download

Throughout the project, SONNET is producing a series of so-called ‘Energy Reads’ that summarise the key points from its diverse catalogue of research into concise, accessible, evidence-based publications. This Energy Read overviews key findings from the project’s 18 Case Studies and three Country Reports.

 

SONNET Energy Read #1: About the social dimension of energy transitions

June 2020 – Download

Authors: Niklas Mischkowski (ICLEI Europe), Julia Wittmayer (DRIFT)

In this first SONNET Energy Read, we introduce the concept of social innovation in energy transitions and show their diversity, going ‘beyond only energy cooperatives’. This diversity is portrayed in a typology and illustrated with examples, putting an emphasis on the six cities that are partners in the SONNET project. Ultimately, through this Energy Read we will see that energy transitions have inseparable social and technological dimensions to them. We hope that, by understanding these dimensions, we can support the social dynamics that are necessary to the success of the much-needed renewal of our energy systems.

 

SONNET Infographic #2: Compiling Case Studies that explore how social innovations in energy shape – and are shaped by – larger systems

November 2021 – Download

Throughout the project, SONNET is producing a series of so-called ‘Energy Reads’ that summarise the key points from its diverse catalogue of research into concise, accessible, evidence-based publications. The second Energy Read overviews key findings from the project’s 18 Case Studies and three Country Reports, while this complimentary infographic outlines the process of compiling these resources.

 

SONNET Infographic #1: About the social dimension of energy transitions

June 2020 – Download

In our first SONNET Energy Read, we introduce the concept of social innovation in energy transitions and show their diversity, going ‘beyond only energy cooperatives’. This diversity is portrayed in a typology and illustrated with examples, putting an emphasis on the six cities that are partners in the SONNET project. This complementary infographic brings all of our insights together into one, visual story.

 

SONNET Postcard

The SONNET Postcard is now available in the following languages: English, German, French, Dutch, Polish

 

SONNET Poster

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Authors: Agata Dembek (Kozminski University), Agata Stasik (Kozminski University), Karoline Rogge (University of Sussex)

SONNET aims to co-create a rich understanding of the diversity, processes, contributions, success and future potentials of social innovation in the energy sector (SIE). Our empirical work bridges qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches in an innovative research design. Among other research activities, given its focus on urban areas as major hubs for SIE, SONNET conducts six transdisciplinary SIE City Labs to experiment with new forms of SIE and learn about how multiple actors can harness the potential of SIE

 

Encouraging SIE through strategies for increasing countervailing powers – a practical guide

SONNET Deliverable 2.3

October 2021 – Download

Authors: Tessa de Geus, Flor Avelino, Lara Hendrikx, Vaishali Joshi, Naomi Schrandt and Derk Loorbach (DRIFT), Marta Strumińska-Kutra (Kozminski University)

Contributors: Karoline Rogge and Linda Widdel (Fraunhofer ISI), Magdalena Pitzer and Wouter Mulders (DRIFT), Chris Vrettos (Electra Energy Cooperative), Niklas Mischkowski and Adrienne Kotler (ICLEI Europe), Agata Stasik (Kozminski University), Timo Maas (PBL), Giorgos Koukoufikis (JRC), Marco Costa (AESS)

This practical guide provides readers with evidence-based exercises that they can use to put questions of power at the centre of social innovations in energy, in order to unlock these social innovations’ full potentials to transform systems for the better.

 

EU and SIE goal alignment map

SONNET Deliverable 6.1

June 2021 – Download

Author: Christian Winzer (ZHAW)

Contributor: Tim Dzukowski (ZHAW)

This deliverable outlines findings based on a survey with SIE representatives, field-actors and researchers, through which SONNET has evaluated to what extent the aims of SIE initiatives are aligned with the goals of EU energy policy. We have found that there is strong alignment with respect to goals to increase renewable energy production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while other investigated EU aims were perceived as less important.

 

Towards a toolkit for harnessing policy networks for encouraging SIE in Europe

SONNET Deliverable 2.2

June 2021 – Download

Authors: Heike Brugger, Iska Brunzema, Maria Stadler (Fraunhofer ISI)

Contributors: Karoline Rogge (ISI); Marta Struminska-Kutra, Agata Dembek, Boleslaw Rok (ALK); Flor Avelino, Sarah Rach, Naomi Schrandt (DRIFT); Regina Betz, Lukas Braunreiter (ZHAW); Marfuga Iskandarova, Sabine Hielscher (UoS); Pascal Bovy, Adélie Ranville (GEM)

This report aims to identify, for each of the six SONNET cities, the policy network in which SIE initiatives are embedded. A policy network analysis is conducted with a particular focus on the relations between key actors at the local, regional, national and EU level (e.g. policy-makers, city administrations, energy utilities, businesses and network organisations), and to identify enabling and impeding structures for SIE initiatives.

 

Updated Co-creation, Dissemination and Exploitation Strategy

SONNET Deliverable 7.2

January 2021 – Download

Author: Adrienne Kotler (ICLEI Europe)

Contributors: Niklas Mischkowski and Olga Krajewska (ICLEI Europe), Louise Sheridan (University of Sussex), Adélie Ranville (Grenoble École de Management), Christian Winzer (ZHAW School of Management and Law), Karoline Rogge (Fraunhofer ISI)

This deliverable outlines an updated strategy for co-creating knowledge through the SONNET project, as well as for the dissemination and exploitation of SONNET results and learnings. This builds on the original strategy, which was written at the beginning of the project, and it will continue to evolve throughout the second half of the project.

 

Report on encouraging SIE through collaborative governance arrangements

SONNET Deliverable 2.1

November 2020 – Download

Author: Marta Strumińska-Kutra (Kozminski University)

Contributor: Maria Stadler (Fraunhofer ISI)

This report addresses the questions: ‘What are governance arrangements related to SIE and how (under what conditions) do they evolve over time?’, as well as, ‘How can (novel) governance arrangements encourage the development of SIE?’. To answer these, the publication presents an SIE governance typology, which illustrates the diversity of governance arrangements used by city administrations to facilitate and support SIE, and four propositions to enhance the understanding of SIE governance emergence and institutionalisation. Overall, considering both social interactions (cooperation, exchange, competition, conflict), and governance modes (hierarchical, market-based and network-based), the publication explore what approaches cities can take (and are taking) to steer issues related to social innovation in energy.

 

Beyond instrumentalism: Broadening the understanding of social innovation in socio-technical energy systems

Energy Research & Social Science 70 (2020) 101689

July 2020 – Download

Authors: Julia M. Wittmayer (DRIFT), Tessa de Geus (DRIFT), Bonno Pel (DRIFT/Université Libre de Bruxelles), Flor Avelino (DRIFT), Sabine Hielscher (SPRU), Thomas Hoppe (TPM), Susan Mühlemeier (AES), Agata Stasik (Kozminski University), Sem Oxenaar (DRIFT), Karoline S. Rogge (SPRU/Fraunhofer ISI), Vivian Visser (ESSB), Esther Marín-González (CE3C), Merel Ooms (Platform31), Saskia Buitelaar (Platform31), Chris Foulds (Anglia Ruskin University), Kristian Petrick (Eco-Union), Salvador Klarwein (Eco-Union), Seweryn Krupnik (Jagiellonian University), Gerdien de Vries (TPM), Aleksandra Wagner (Jagiellonian University), Anja Härtwig (ICLEI Europe)

Social innovation is an important dimension of current transformations in energy systems. It can refer to alternative business models, novel policy instruments, financing schemes, participatory governance approaches to energy questions, or new discourses. Its significance for energy systems is often considered in narrow instrumentalist terms, reducing it to a tool serving particular policy objectives. Grounding the concept in social science and humanities insights, this review essay proposes a broadened social innovation understanding. We propose 1) to open up the normative complexity of the concept; 2) to appreciate the multi-actor nature of social innovation; 3) to understand it as an analytical entry point for socio-material intertwinement; and, 4) to understand social innovation as premised on experimentalism-based intervention logics. The proposed social innovation understandings provide a broader imagination and strategizing of structural changes in energy systems.

 

Methodological guidelines for case study analysis

SONNET Deliverable 3.1 (April 2020) – Download

Authors: Sabine Hielscher (SPRU), Julia Wittmayer (DRIFT), Rachael Durrant (SPRU)

SONNET aims to co-create a rich understanding of the diversity, processes, contributions, successes and future potentials of social innovation in the energy sector (SIE). This deliverable addresses SONNET’s objective to identify and analyse enabling and impeding factors for SIE processes. It provides a joint research protocol for the case studies.

 

Report on transdisciplinary research protocol for six co-creating SIE city labs

SONNET Deliverable 4.1 (March 2020) – Download

Authors: Agata Dembek, Alicja Dańkowska, Marta Strumińska-Kutra (Kozminski University)

The transdisciplinary research protocol for SONNET’s city labs aims to propose a shared understanding of the role and methodology of SONNET’s city labs and to provide SONNET cities and researchers with guidelines for how to conduct a city lab that at the same time meets local needs and overall SONNET objectives.

 

Report on SONNET’s initial conceptual framework

SONNET Deliverable 1.2 (March 2020) – Download

Authors: Julia M. Wittmayer (DRIFT), Sabine Hielscher (University of Sussex), Karoline S. Rogge (University of Sussex) and Flor Avelino (DRIFT)

While there are many insights on social innovation on the one hand, and energy systems and their social processes on the other – to date these insights have hardly been brought together. In this report, we build on literature that examines processes of social innovation and their institutionalisation and relate it to insights from sustainability transitions and energy research in social sciences to build a draft conceptual framework for the study of diversity, processes and contributions of social innovation in energy (SIE).

 

Report on preliminary typology of social innovation in the energy sector

SONNET Deliverable 1.1 (January 2020) – Download

Authors: Julia M. Wittmayer (DRIFT), Maria Fraaije (DRIFT), Sabine Hielscher (University of Sussex), and Flor Avelino (DRIFT)

SONNET aims to co-create a rich understanding of the diversity, processes, contributions, successes and future potentials of social innovation in the energy sector (SIE). This report explores the diversity of SIE in Europe and captures it within a comprehensive SIE typology.

 

Co-creation, Dissemination and Exploitation Strategy

SONNET Deliverable  7.1 (September 2019) – Download

Authors: Adrienne Kotler (ICLEI Europe), Ania Rok (ICLEI Europe), Anja Härtwig (ICLEI Europe), Niklas Mischkowski (ICLEI Europe), Nora Blascsok (University of Sussex) and Olga Krajewska (ICLEI Europe)

The co-creation, dissemination and exploitation strategy of SONNET describes how the knowledge and experience of consortium partners will be used for communicating about the project, disseminating its results to a wide range of audiences and ensuring that the resulting ideas, methods and recommendations are taken up and continued to be used after the project ends (exploitation).

 

Taking power seriously: Towards a power-sensitive approach for transdisciplinary action research

Futures, Volume 135 (2022) 102881

December 2021 – Download

Authors: Marta Strumińska-Kutra, Christian Scholl

This paper focuses on transdisciplinary action research to explore the key challenge of post-normal science – how to deal with power. First, the paper reviews the literature on stakeholder inclusion and identifies a methodological dilemma trapping transdisciplinary action research between the promise of effectiveness and inclusiveness and the danger of power asymmetries affecting the research process and outcomes. We then develop a framework distinguishing three different power-related tensions permeating transdisciplinary research promises: the systemic level of institutions, the heterogeneous stakeholder group, and the role and position of the researcher. We provide concrete literature-based tools for dealing with each of these tensions and mould a power-sensitive approach for transdisciplinary action research.

 

Who finances renewable energy in Europe? Examining temporality, authority and contestation in solar and wind subsidies in Poland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom

Energy Strategy Reviews, Volume 38 (2021) 100730

November 2021 – Download

Authors: Marfuga Iskandarova, Agata Dembek, Maria Fraaije, William Matthews, Agata Stasik, Julia M. Wittmayer, Benjamin K. Sovacool

This paper explores the development of financing and subsidies for renewable energy in three fossil-fuelled European countries: Poland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Financing for renewable energy is an existing arena involving multi-actor activities and practices that develop and implement (innovative) financial instruments to facilitate investments in renewable energy. The paper focuses on different financial mechanisms – such as grants, awards, subsidies, crowdfunding, community bonds, ventures, social investment – as long as these funding instruments finance sustainable energy infrastructure and activities. The extent to which this is changing social relations and comes with new ways of doing, thinking and/or organizing is an empirical topic explicitly examined in the study.

We first briefly define and conceptualize financial mechanisms and subsidies before explicating our mixed methods research design consisting of scoping, document analysis, 22 original expert interviews, and observational data from eight meetings and events. We then compare the recent history of solar and wind energy financing and subsidies in our three countries. These comparative cases reveal the temporality of subsidization, indicating fundamental changes in the patterns and logics of financing over the past two decades. They reveal shifts in authority and an expansion of actors involved in financing. They lastly reveal tensions and contestations in financing, including gaps in coverage and conflicts among stakeholder groups. We conclude with future insights for renewable energy diffusion, innovation, and policy.

 

Smart grids and institutional change: Emerging contestations between organisations over smart energy transitions

Energy Research & Social Science, Volume 74 (2021) 101974

February 2021 – Download

Authors: Friederike Rohde, Sabine Hielscher

Smart grids are promoted as promising pathways for dealing with new grid challenges that have arisen by the introduction of renewable energies. In Germany, increasing shares of volatile renewables have led to a growing number of smart grid pilot projects and related regulatory and market developments. Even though much has been done to develop the smart grid, significant difficulties remain, in particular, the re-negotiation of new roles and responsibilities of the organisational actors involved. From a sociological perspective, these shifts imply changes to current institutional arrangements within energy systems.

Drawing on new organisational institutionalism and a qualitative analysis of German smart grid developments, this paper sheds light on organisations’ differing practices aimed at creating, maintaining and disrupting institutions (i.e. institutional work). The paper demonstrates how organisations within smart grid developments attempt to reconfigure institutional arrangements in diverging or even contradictory ways. The paper reveals how the re-institutionalisation processes related to smart grids require fundamental changes in the common meaning system. Implementing these changes will remain a challenge if actors try to maintain existing institutional arrangements.

 

Introduction: Action Research, Policy and Politics. Special Issue of the International Journal of Action Research

Special Issue of the International Journal of Action Research (2021)

January 2021 – Download

Authors: Julia Wittmayer, Koen Bartels, Miren Larrea

This editorial is an introduction to a special issue on the need to connect across different fields to address societal problems, including climate change and social justice.

 

Consumers or users? The impact of user learning about smart hybrid heat pumps on policy trajectories for heat decarbonisation

Energy Policy, Volume 148 – Part B (2021) 112006

November 2020 – Download

Authors: Bryony Parrish, Sabine Hielscher, Timothy J. Foxona

Decarbonisation policies often emphasise the uptake of new end-use technologies, seeing people as consumers of technologies with predictable impacts. In the UK, smart hybrid heat pumps (SHHP) have attracted policy interest as a technology potentially offering multiple benefits for home heat decarbonisation.

This paper draws on domestication theory, a perspective that frames people as users who actively learn about technologies, to analyse interviews and observations with installers and users involved in the first UK trial of SHHP. This reveals that users’ learning about SHHPs may erode part of the energy savings they offer and have implications for future technology uptake. It also reveals opportunities for policy making to influence user learning, which could be supported by engaging with users as their learning emerges over time. Overall, the paper highlights the policy relevance of technology use, as well as uptake, and adds to calls for energy policy to think beyond information provision and economic incentives to engage with households, implying a less deterministic approach to policy making.

 

Beyond instrumentalism: Broadening the understanding of social innovation in socio-technical energy systems

Energy Research & Social Science 70 (2020) 101689

July 2020 – Download

Authors: Julia M. Wittmayer (DRIFT), Tessa de Geus (DRIFT), Bonno Pel (DRIFT/Université Libre de Bruxelles), Flor Avelino (DRIFT), Sabine Hielscher (SPRU), Thomas Hoppe (TPM), Susan Mühlemeier (AES), Agata Stasik (Kozminski University), Sem Oxenaar (DRIFT), Karoline S. Rogge (SPRU/Fraunhofer ISI), Vivian Visser (ESSB), Esther Marín-González (CE3C), Merel Ooms (Platform31), Saskia Buitelaar (Platform31), Chris Foulds (Anglia Ruskin University), Kristian Petrick (Eco-Union), Salvador Klarwein (Eco-Union), Seweryn Krupnik (Jagiellonian University), Gerdien de Vries (TPM), Aleksandra Wagner (Jagiellonian University), Anja Härtwig (ICLEI Europe)

Social innovation is an important dimension of current transformations in energy systems. It can refer to alternative business models, novel policy instruments, financing schemes, participatory governance approaches to energy questions, or new discourses. Its significance for energy systems is often considered in narrow instrumentalist terms, reducing it to a tool serving particular policy objectives. Grounding the concept in social science and humanities insights, this review essay proposes a broadened social innovation understanding. We propose 1) to open up the normative complexity of the concept; 2) to appreciate the multi-actor nature of social innovation; 3) to understand it as an analytical entry point for socio-material intertwinement; and, 4) to understand social innovation as premised on experimentalism-based intervention logics. The proposed social innovation understandings provide a broader imagination and strategizing of structural changes in energy systems.

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