Participatory procedures, belief systems and commitment dynamics in a wind farm controversy in western Switzerland.

Pierre-Henri BOMBENGER (University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland/School of Business and Engineering Vaud/Institut G2C – Equipe PlanI-D)
Adeline CHERQUI (University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland/School of Business and Engineering Vaud/Institut G2C – Equipe PlanI-D)
Kevin BLAKE (University of Lausanne (UNIL)/ Institute of Higher Public Administration (IDHEAP) Public Policy & Sustainability)
Marie-Joëlle KODJOVI (University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland/School of Business and Engineering Vaud/Institut G2C/Equipe PlanI-D)

In 2011, Swiss federal authorities decide to gradually shut down nuclear power plants and push the country towards a transition in energy politics that includes the use of wind power. This presentation addresses a case study led by the FNS Gouvéole research project on a wind farm pilot project that began 17 years ago in the Jura Mountains of western Switzerland. Our twofold analysis questions the evolutions of the dynamics of mobilization and commitment of different actors over an extended period of time.
On one hand, our work shows how participatory procedures and institutional processes have evolved during these last two decades. Far from being constant, the land-use planning institutional framework has become especially complex because of the raise in the number of regulated activities. The multiplicity of municipal, cantonal and federal regulatory devices and their gradual opening-up for territorial players have made coordination a challenge. The latter have increasingly been able to play with the procedural rules and even generate new ones in order to orientate the wind farm consent process. The case study brings to light the particular role played by collaborative efforts in conjunction with the referendary power held by citizens in the context of Swiss direct democracy.
On the other hand, our study analyses the evolutions of actor coalitions on two levels. Firstly, on a meso-logical scale, an advocacy coalitions approach focuses on the dynamics of construction and recomposition of groups of actors around common belief systems and representations. Secondly, on a micro-logical scale, sociology of social movements and militancy studies the recombination of the collectives whilst highlighting the relations held between actors, action resources (for example: relational, juridical, organisational) and social trajectories. These lead them to position themselves strategically in one or the other advocacy coalitions.
Finally, this communication aims to consider environmental controversies in an original perspective through wind power by placing the analysis in the long-term and different scales of territories.

MOTS CLÉS : Éolien, Suisse, procédure, engagement, systèmes de croyances.

The impossible technical democracy. The case of the French-Spanish Extra Hight Voltage Line.

Laurence Raineau (University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne/Center for Technical Study, Knowledge and Practices – Cetcopra)
Aurélien Cohen (University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne/Center for Technical Study, Knowledge and Practices – Cetcopra)

Our intervention intends to be a reflection about the role given to the citizen and to the consumer in the energy transition that is happening in France, and about the possible meaning of the separation of those two « participants ».
Our reflection is based on a fieldwork made in the Pyrénées Orientales area in France where the construction of a Extra Hight Voltage Line is in project. The moment large infrastructures are implanted on a territory is when large technical systems of energy are given a reality on the local level, with energy becoming then a tangible presence. On that occasion, local participants have the opportunity to take part in discussions about issues they used to have no voice in. The project of EHV has triggered the creation of a collective, and a reflection on the part of local participants about the various possible energy transitions. The public consultation about that project quickly became an open conflict which has seen activists opposing experts, but also experts opposing experts. In the process, activists’ argumentation has been limited to the scientific aspect of the issue (such as second opinions on economic and sanitary evaluations). Because they wanted to fuel the interest raised by the issue and maintain a key position in the debate, activists had to withdraw from the wider debate about energy transition and the various models of society that it implies. But this controversy also led to the creation of « hybrid forums », which can be seen as a compromise between political, scientific and local actors : the EHV construction will take place but it will be underground (a decision that entails a budget 4 times higher than it was originally). This conflict is a perfect illustration of a final decision elaborated with a wide collaboration of various participants, including laymen, and which reinjected a dose of local realities in the debate.
But this new implication of the citizens in the debate about the future of the energy system can also be seen as a form of domestication of popular mobilizations, which would be the unavoidable consequence as well as the limit of « technical democracy ». The citizens’ voice is heard and taken into account only in the limited scope of a debate with set boundaries. Therefore, the « technical democracy citizen » is allowed to participate in the debate about energy transition, but never becomes a true participant in the energy system. This gap between energy and its consumers, technical evolutions and evolution of customs, between science and common sense is still very much present (eventhough some tried to seal it up), and is not seen as a relevant topic in actual controversies. On the contrary, we see it as central among all the issues that will have to be resolved in the energy transition process.


Beyond Nimby: justification registers and logics of the mobilizations against wind farms projects. Case studies from the Aude and Ariège departments (France).

Stéphanie DECHEZELLES (Institute of Political Studies of Aix-en-Provence/CHERPA)

Since the 2000’s France launched onto the promotion of the renewable energies in its nationally produced and used electricity. Locally this policy comes in numerous projects. As far as wind energy is concerned, two bordering but contrasted counties offer the possibility for stimulating comparative investigations. On the one side, the department of Aude can be considered as a pioneer territory because of its wind characteristics and the importance of the wind farms on his territory. On the other side, the Ariège department counts no park for the moment in spite of numerous doorstep selling led by private promoters. In this two counties, several associations and groups have emerged in order to oppose new projects. They mobilize intensively during the participatory democracy consultations and public inquiries. For the social scientist, they are very interesting occasions to question and understand the logics of the contention.
Strongly forced by the high technical level of these projects, the members of the mobilized groups try to compete in every fields of expertise with the public institutions, private companies and specialized engineering consulting firms. Using arguments they pull from their biographic experiments, professional careers or social networks, they do not however confine themselves to the “cold” and unique register of the technical expertise. They also operate, according to certain conditions, forms of hybridization with sensitive registers (affection for the local territory, aesthetic evaluations, ordinary patrimonialisation process) which can be sometimes understood by public authorities. Indeed, for the latter, these emotional registers or these “relative” appreciations are not totally different from new forms of territorial public action (labeling politics, ranking, participatory democracy…).
Thus the different actors are committed in a race for the production of evaluation and argumentation criteria which swing between several regimes of justification and various scales of legitimacy. We shall in particular attempt to show how, far from mobilizing only expert arguments, the opponents try to articulate them and to combine them in more emotional or located modalities of framing.
We shall in particular try to go beyond the (dis)qualifications of “NIMBY” that is used by certain private and public actors, but also a high number of social scientists. This (dis)qualification blur or darken more than analyze the reasons why some people, who are very interested in energy sobriety or environmental protection, oppose nevertheless to these projects.
The communication will lean on a corpus which is composed by around thirty semi-directive interviews, public documents of orientation and territorial reports, numerous sessions of direct and participating observations, naturalistic databases, registers of public inquiries…

KEY WORDS: Mobilization, wind energy, controversies, participatory democracy, expertise.

Antagonising the « shale gas revolution »: anti-fracking movements in France and Poland.

Roberto CANTONI (École des Ponts Paris Tech/UMR CNRS 8134 LATTS)

According to a 2011 report by the International Energy Agency, the world has entered a “golden age of gas”. Undeniably, this statement has been prompted by the radical changes brought about by unconventional sources of gas to energy markets: in particular, this is the case for shale gas. American gas findings led to a transformation of the US market, and Europe too is starting to be affected by this phenomenon: shale prospection campaigns have already started in a number of European countries, including Poland and the UK. While including my analysis within the broader geopolitical framework of gas trade, I will develop two points: first, I will show While including my analysis in the broader trade natural gas geopolitical framework, I will show how the attitudes of a number of European governments towards the exploitation of this unconventional resource are characterized, following neoliberal political agendas, by geostrategic issues focused on energy independence and a purely economic logic.
Secondly, I analyze the emergence of movements opposing the mining industry of shale gas and material practices that are perceived as very real risk of pollution, caused by hydraulic fracturing (fracking), a technique are the basis of this operation. I show how the industry has underestimated the complexity, scope and influence of the anti-fracking movement, and interpreted protests as if it were “NIMBY syndrome” masquerading as environmentalism. My study argues instead that the demonstrations are based on a coalition of various interests and ideological achievements, which are unlikely to be swayed by studies funded by industry or public relations campaigns in glossy magazines.

KEY WORDS: Shale gas, mobilisation, Poland, France, fracking.

A citizen’s energy transition: laboratory of experiment for local public policies?

Frédéric BALLY (Pierre-Mendès-France University of Grenoble 2/ Literature, Languages and Society Laboratory – ED Human science, Policy and Planning)

Energy is not infinite anymore, as we supposed to, but it still stays a stake of innovation and of a new social perspective (Raymond, 2013). If there are many injunctions to act like an eco-citizen (Chavanon et al., 2011) which emerge under the light of public policies and international commitment, society also bet on a technological evolution to facilitate virtuous behaviour.
At the same time many small revolutions grow locally (Manier, 2013), through ordinary citizens. The territory of Lyon is, for example, the breeding ground of a certain amount of citizens’ initiatives, in terms of enhancement of natural resources and energy saving : we can quote Share gardens, housing community or citizens’ associations like Graines Rhône-Alpes or Anciela, which highlight a sustainable territory. This non-exhaustive list shows as much as potential fields where citizens’ initiatives take part in favor of another definition of the notion of sustainability, economy (Lagane, 2011) and sociability (Ripoll, 2010), in discrepancy, and sometimes in prolongation of an institutional vision.
Our communication will try to question logics and potentialities of theses citizens’ initiatives in a local level. We will study first the diversity of the forms that citizens’ initiatives can take on the territory of Lyon, just as their founding’s values, through the way these citizens get together.
Next, it’s about to show relations that can emerge between these citizens’ initiatives and the local institutions to legitimate/ develop local public policies in the fields of energy. This can question the bottom-up logic and revive it also.

KEY WORDS: sustainable development, eco-citizen, energy transition, ordinary actors, sociology of citizen’s initiatives.

A thermal Power Station on the Boil

Ghislaine GALLENGA (University of Aix-Marseille–AMU/ Institut d’Ethnologie Méditerranéenne Européenne et Comparative – IDEMEC CNRS UMR 7307)

Since 2003, the town of Gardanne has been coming to terms with the demise of a coal mining industry which, for over a century, along with its accompanying industrialisation, had entirely dominated the area. After the closure of the mine, the thermal power station converted into using new sustainable energies, thus bringing about a transition in the energy mix. Most notably, it is preparing a transition from imported coal to wood granules. This change worries the employees. How are the power station staff dealing with these developments, from the closure of the mine to the transition to using wood granules? Around which issues are employees’ fears centred and how do they become apparent? Do the workers see energy transition more as a threat and a worry which adds to the many uncertainties about the future that have arisen since the coal crisis? Does it not spell the end of the local identity and working-class culture? Finally, is it not just a rhetorical tool designed to go hand-in-hand with economic cutbacks?

MOTS CLÉS : ethnology, thermal power station, working-class culture, memory, mine.

State Suppression of Environmentalism in the Post-911 Era of Peak Oil : The Canadian Case.

S. Harris ALI (York University, Toronto, Canada)

In its attempt to be an “energy superpower,” the Canadian state has adopted deliberate strategies to undermine and disarm their chief political adversaries – environmental groups. In so doing, the state has attempted to weaken and even remove the influence of those advocating for de-carbonization and the development of renewable energy sources. In this paper, a social constructionist perspective based on discourse analysis is used to examine how the Canadian state has attempted to limit the influence of the environmental movement with respect to their plans to expand the operations related to the extraction of “dirty oil” from the tar sands of Alberta. In conjunction with corporate oil industry interests, state strategies aimed at subverting the activities of environmental groups include: the targeted financial auditing of specifically environmental charities; intelligence gathering and monitoring of activities of environmental group members; the muzzling of government climate change scientists, and the pursuit of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPS). The analysis will draw upon literature from the area of surveillance and critical security studies to help understand the social and political process through which environmentalism in Canada becomes conflated with terrorism and threats to the nation-state in a post-911 neoliberal age of peak oil.

KEY WORDS: Suppression of environmentalism, tar sands, climate change, neoliberalism, securitization.

The renewable energy cooperative and the commons: some elements of field inquiry.

Léa EYNAUD (PhD Student ADEME/ EHESS –Marcel Mauss Institute/Study of Social Movements Centre)

This communication will address the articulation between the notion of the « commons » and the activity of renewable energy cooperatives. While this link is often drawn by activists – especially by advocates of the commons – and mentioned in a few theoretical contributions, a lack of research remains regarding the empirical modalities of this articulation. Our contribution constitutes a response to this acknowledged gap. Based on a pragmatist approach inspired by the work of J. Dewey, it investigates the way energy cooperatives actors experience the commons, the way they define and reclaim them as part of their concrete actions on the ground – with particular attention being drawn to the exploratory dimension of these processes.
In which way does the notion of the “commons” find expression in the practical and discursive activities led by energy cooperatives actors (e.g. internal governance processes; ethical choices regarding energy supply; communication to the consumers; lobbying and political negotiation; mobilization within larger social movements)? What are the democratic and environmental dimensions of energy re-appropriation through the commons? In return, how does the specificity of energy as an object contribute to a particular understanding of what “commoning” means – as compared to what prevails in other domains with which the commons are more generally associated, such as knowledge? Finally, what are the political, institutional and legal difficulties (or obstacles) facing the actors on the ground, and how are they tackled?
Our communication will be based on analysis of qualitative data collected by the PhD student over the course of her first months of research (from September 2014 on). It will draw on a series of interviews carried out in the French renewable energy supply cooperative “Enercoop” as well as with other actors (e.g. other cooperatives within the European network REScoop, especially in Germany; politicians; activists; competitors; energy producers; consumers; citizen investment funds), supplemented with the first results of an ethnographic inquiry led within the energy cooperative. Besides the answer to the aforementioned research questions, our contribution will insist on the heuristic and empirical validity of a connection between commons and energy in relation to ecological transition. Attention will also be drawn to the employed methodology, notably the focus on actors’ point of views and field research.

KEY WORDS: energy cooperatives, renewable energy, commons, ecological transition, citizen initiative.


Does energy transition emancipate?

Rémi ZANNI (Paris Diderot University – Paris 7/LCSP)

This paper aims at questioning the role of energy transition in relation to emancipation or, more specifically, knowing if energy transition as social project can make us freer or more autonomous.
First, this question may appear absurd. Indeed, emancipation is absolutely not the aim of the energy transition according to dominant ecology thought. Sustainable development has another issue: the preservation of our natural resources, the conservation of our capacity to survive in our natural environment. Energy production is, in this acceptation, essential to question because it threatens to make Earth uninhabitable; we have to make it renewable and more efficient. This is a technical issue and if we want to think it in a social way, we need to question the popular acceptance of the technical solution.
It is this technological approach of energy that Ivan Illich’s thought challenges. The quantitative (or calorific) thinking of energy deprived us of our ability to distinguish between metabolic energy (the energy of our bodies) and exogenous energy (the energy of natural forces that we divert to fulfill our purposes). Yet, according to Illich, when this one – pure or pollutant, rare or abundant – dominates that one, this establishes a “radical monopoly” which prevents us from using our metabolic energy and compels us to join the “megamachine” (“mégamachine”), to submit to a “technological system” (“système technicien”) controlled by expertise and sole energy provider. Therefore, an energy transition according to radical political ecology would be to reverse this submissive relationship and to regain politically our power to decide which energy we want to use, what degree of alienation our societies accept. Hence, the energy transition thought with Illich’s concepts appears vector of autonomy and subsequently emancipating.
Therefore, there might be not one but two energy transitions. Are they compatible? From goal’s perspective, there is no contradiction: the first one aims the possibility of surviving, the second one the possibility of living a truly human life. They could even be complementary if not dialectically embedded. However, as Arendt reminds us, political issues concern much more the means than the goals. Thus, this paper would conclude with a confrontation between the means used by these two energy transitions: are they actually compatible in a perspective of emancipation?

KEY WORDS: Ivan Illich, energy transition, emancipation, autonomy, political ecology.

Citizen participation and local energy governance: a sociological analysis of grassroots energy initiatives in German cities.

Thomas BLANCHET (École des Ponts Paris Tech/ LATTS)
Conrad KUNZE (University of Halle-Wittenberg/Helmholtz- Centre for Environmental Research)
Becker SÖREN (Leibniz-Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning)

This study aims to investigate the growing influence played by grassroots initiatives on the urban energy governance in Germany. In the context of the national policy of the energy turnaround (Energiewende), Germany experiences an upsurge of local actors in the governance of energy (local authorities, municipal utilities, citizen initiatives). Among them, grassroots initiatives increasingly strive to take part in designing the future energy system. Up to now however, little is known about the emergence and impact of energy grassroots initiatives in the local governance of energy systems. Why do citizen initiatives get involved in energy governance and how can they influence the local energy policy in an urban context? Under the term of “community energy”, the existing literature mainly focuses on the collaborative character of such projects and neglects the potential conflicts that can result from the emergence of new actors in a field already controlled by incumbents (municipal authorities, local energy operators).
Based on expert interviews and a document analysis and relying on a strategic analysis approach (Crozier and Friedberg, 1977; Fligstein and McAdam, 2012), this study focuses on the emergence and development of energy grassroots initiatives and their interactions with established actors in five German municipalities (Hamburg, Berlin, Aachen, Jena, Leipzig). The results suggest that while the impact of national debates on energy transitions have been important factors for the emergence of such initiatives, these initiatives are generally triggered by the discontent of several citizens with the local energy policy. Therefore they aim at imposing an alternative policy program related to energy production and/or distribution. To achieve their goals, citizens may rely on a diversity of organizational instruments (cooperatives, local referendum, saving bounds). Finally, the results show that the success of such initiatives varies largely depending on the local regulation, the strategy they adopted, and the relationships of cooperation and/or conflicts developed with the established actors.

KEY WORDS: citizen initiatives, local governance, empowerment, energy transition, privatisation.

Public opinion or opinion of publics: how and who gets involved into energy related issues?

Jérémy BOUILLET (University of Grenoble/UMR PACTE ; EDF R&D)

In terms of energy, normative injonctions to save energy are numerous and often centered on the idea of “best practices” dissemination. Indeed, a common instrumental supposition –quite developed within the field of politics- considers that bringing the “right” knowledge to the citizen is enough to make him act “correctly”. But ordinary citizens being neither incompetent nor overcompetent, they rather tinker these normative injonctions adhering to part of them, questioning other parts in order to make them compatible with their values and interests, lifestyles and the socio-technical devices on which those lifestyles are backed.
Facing the issues’ complexity of the “Great Society” (quoting Graham Wallas) that prevent ordinary citizens from having an immediate and intuitive understanding of public life, John Dewey proposed a version of the social world less “given” that “in the making”. And while some people work hard to avoid a confrontation with public problems -partly, but not only because of their complexity-, other people face the problems that affect them and take note of the unexpected consequences that are beyond their single action. A public is then born from the realization of the importance of the issue and the disruption it represents, a public that now seeks solutions to the public problem.
These publics engage in a number of discursive activities that can be considered as a social activity like any other. Taking the insights of pragmatism, this paper proposes to look at how people discuss the legitimacy of the public problem of energy through the narrative forms it produces and the degree of support it generates; the issue is also so see how storytelling and arguments on energy issues are variously appropriated by an “ordinary citizen” whose practices also address other constraints, including user and consumer.
This communication also has a methodological dimension: while the approach by “good practice” is limited to the observation of the progression (or regression) of energy theme in public opinion, and enjoy (or deplore) the changes of major indicators surveys, an approach by the public gives its place back to the typicality and importance of energy issues for people. The aim is then less to find the latent public opinion on energy issues than to understand the mechanisms of its development.
This work is based on the analysis of open-ended questions on two surveys conducted in the PACA region in 2009 and 2013.

KEY WORDS: public, Dewey, public problem, public opinion, political competence.

The users’ involvement into energy transition: an application of the empowerment concept in the energy field.


The empowerment, and the different ways citizen-users get involved in energy projects is a major issue and concern for energy companies such as GDF SUEZ.
Fully invested to achieve the energy transition objectives (thermal buildings renovation, positive energy buildings , new eco-efficient materials, elimination of fuel poverty , building management etc.) of Big Data and Smart (metering/grids/city/building) projects, energy companies have to face two major challenges which are both complementary but sometimes contradictory. On the one hand, companies seem to be concerned about the way they could give responsibilities to users in order to help them control their energy consumption and thus expenditure. In the other hand, the rising individual demands and preferences from active players and the society in general have to be considered.
From that point, it seems that we have to deal with two profiles: the user as a consumerist and an individualistic person that we have to empower, and the user as a citizen who get involved and interested in making his point of view and in deciding with the strategic energy players.
The goal of this communication would be to explore the reasons why energy companies take into account those challenges and new trends and to discuss the ways they implement them in their plans. Two fields will be studied with an empirical approach and concrete examples:
- the technological innovation: the co-construction of services and in the design of technological innovation projects, in implementation and deployment of Smart Grids (cf. Greenlys project) ; and in a forward-looking manner, the emergence of a model in which each user / unit / building / city / area would potentially become a smart and autonomous unit of production and consumption in the energy sector;
- the organizational field: the limits of vertical, centralized and planned organizational culture in favour of a collaborative / distributive / horizontal / decentralized logic, particularly through corporate policies to recognize users’ abilities, skills, (calls for participation / suggestions / feedback / online survey towards users – energy players).

KEY WORDS: empowerment, smart grids, distributive economy, collective intelligence, active players.

The environmental associations investment in steering energy cooperatives: towards a participatory terms professionalisation?

Guillaume CHRISTEN (University of Strasbourg/SAGE – UMR 7363 CNRS)

This contribution proposes to enligther the implementation of a participatory device in the field of energy transition. Indeed, the challenge isn’t to reaffirm the primacy of the social over the technique, but to now question the possibilities of the energy issues’ social reappropriation by a large number of key players. The Organization of this instrument is then delegated to activists experts in cooperative projects and associative actors. These collective actors seek to promote citizen cooperatives and offer the inhabitants the possibity to become shareholders of local renewable energy projects. Our communication focuses on the implementation of a citizien wind power project. Its participaty dimensions consists in including users in the energy transition via popular shareholding merns. More specifically, our attention focuses on this delegation, which reflects the status of environmental associations, playing a growing expert role of with the local authorities, or even local authorities in the implementation of projects (Lascoumes, 1994; Hamman and Blanc, 2009). These associative actors driving collaborative projects and defining the participatory terms organize themselves in the form of a ‘community of specialists’ and take the form of an “associative elite” (Hajek, 2009). Our aim is to question this professionalization process and its consequences when it relates to their abilities in putting the energy transition issue within ordinary actors’ reach. From a methodological point of view, we conducted interviews with inhabitants (thirty interviews) and project leaders (elected representatives, technicians, so a dozen interviews). As a results, we note that the professionalization frome of references’ gives a relatively closed nature to the participatory terms. The confinement of popular shasholding to a “political expertise” (Claeys- Mekdade, 2006), which concerns all the administrative and legal ressources essential to the wind project steering, is at the source of the instrument’s unequal relations. Are these appropriations differentiated, indicative of emerging forms of inequality? These result in unequal capacities to participe and raly environmental projects (Chaumel and La Branche, 2008) or in unequal “contribution” (Gadrey, 2007) to engage in energy transition.

KEY WORDS: environmental associations, energy cooperative, expertise, environmental democracy, environmental inequalities.

Adding or substracting : the art of growing without destroying solar cooperative collectives.

Antoine FONTAINE (University of Grenoble/PACTE ; CIRED)
Olivier LABUSSIERE (University of Grenoble/PACTE)

This communication presents some research outcomes from a PhD project focused on a pilot-project : the ‘Centrales Villageoises Photovoltaïques’ (Rhône-Alpes, France).
This experience is a pioneer project in terms of creating integrated to the building photovoltaïc cooperatives in France. It takes place in eight localities in five different natural parks of the Rhône-Alpes administrative region. It is funded by both the European Union and the region, and animated by the Rhône-Alpes Energie Environnement association. The experience aims to promote a model of development of electricity production from photovoltaïc panels which contributes to, and respects, local goals of development. By doing so, it explicitly adopts an opposing stance to the french national policy for the development of photovoltaïcs which might be assessed as problematic in the light of the financial speculative wave it generated.
This communication focuses on the sociotechnical construction of photovoltaïc roofs – which usually have individual and exclusive existence through propriety rights– and analyses the process of emergence of collective dynamics and the constitution of the solar resource as a ‘common’. How building’s materiality should be understood as a key resource to develop collective photovoltaïc units of production ? How does this open a new collective space to negociate choices including new dimensions (architecural, related to the landscape) ?
The analysis describes processes of ‘attachment’ (in the way defined by the science and technology studies) of these solar roofs to architecture and landscape. The analysis of these attachments tells us about the creation of ‘promising solar sites’, about the deployment of spatial differentiation dynamics, and about the stages of the collective’s constitution. These experiences face two main constraints related to the form of the feed-in tariff (i.e. different levels of remuneration for public and private roofs) and to the electric grid (i.e. connexion costs and their consequences on the projects’ rentabilities). The analysis underlines several process of adjustement : reducing the quantitative ambition of the collectives and preserving the multi-dimensional apprehension of the solar potential (architecture, landscape…) and the solidarity process, or dislocating the collective to the benefit of individual profitability ambitions.
If renewable energy cooperative experiences are often facing uncertain futures, this communication contributes to their analysis with a focus on the role of technical tools (solar potential assessment methods, landscape assessment’s…) that are made in parallel to the cooperatives development and which capacity to maintain an apprehension of the solar resource as a ‘common’ is often neglected.

KEY WORDS: Solar energy, cooperative, territory, attachments.

Successful Public Participation on Denmark’s Renewable Energy Island Samsø?
A Question of Perspective.

Irina PAPAZU (University of Copenhague/Political Science Department)
Olivier LABUSSIERE (University of Grenoble/PACTE)

The Danish island of Samsø with 4000 inhabitants – until 1997 an inconspicuous farming and tourism island – is Denmark’s world-famous Renewable Energy Island self-sufficient with renewable energy through windmills, solar panels and district heating.
The process of de-carbonization of most aspects of life on the island has demanded a strong degree of community ownership and involvement in the various energy-related projects, and Samsø today is as famous for its successful community involvement as for its renewable energy plants.
This paper takes a closer look at the processes through which participation and engagement in the projects was crafted and how through the practical and material work involved in the projects a re-dynamization of the local community has occurred over time.
Samsø, however, is not praised by everyone as a successful energy community. Critics claim that the citizens of Samsø are not sufficiently aware of their energy consumption, that they have not become conscious energy consumers, because the project’s focus has been on changing the energy source, not on the amount of energy used. The paper examines the adequacy of these critiques and discusses the diverse criteria of success and failure in relation to participation that can be applied to public energy projects.
Theoretically, the paper draws on the concept and theory of ‘material participation’ as it has been developed by Bruno Latour, Noortje Marres, Kristin Asdal and others within the field of Science and Technology Studies. Methodologically, the paper draws on qualitative data material generated through five months of fieldwork on Samsø.

KEY WORDS: Energy transitions, public participation, material politics, community, renewable energy.

Citizen prospective to encourage a dynamic of energy and societal transition.

Mathieu LE DÛ (Virage-énergie association, Nord-Pas de Calais)

The NGO Virage-énergie Nord-Pas de Calais has engaged a research project in 2012 to develop prospective energy scenarios focused on energy savings by energy sufficiency and energy efficiency, and on the potential for renewable energies across the Nord-Pas de Calais region. This project is conducted with the financial support of the Regional Council of Nord-Pas-de-Calais and ADEME, in collaboration with two university research laboratories: the laboratory Territoires, Villes, Environnement et Société from the University of Lille 1 and the laboratory Ceraps from Science Po Lille. In developing those scenarios, Virage-énergie Nord-Pas de Calais mobilizes citizens in order to build together a unifying vision of a possible and desirable future. Energy sufficiency, defined as a voluntary and organized strategy to reduce energy consumption by changing lifestyles and social structures, is the core of this reflection. Energy scenarios not only point out the need to change energy uses in everyday life, but also to drive an economic and social transition. Thus, working groups including researchers, volunteers and employees of the association work together to explore the issues, to discuss alternatives and to assess potential effects of such scenarios. The proposed paper will introduce the methodology used to develop those citizen prospective scenarios and their main results. It will also describe the purpose of the associative approach: to encourage a collective process of reflection and change, by building tools to support public decision and to raise awareness among citizens on energy issues and the benefits of energy sufficiency.

KEY WORDS: Citizen prospective, energy scenarios, energy sufficiency, societal changes, public policy.

Deploying smartness in energy grids through a co-design approach at the urban district level.

Dario PADOVAN (University of Torino)
Osman ARROBBIO (University of Torino ; IRIS Interdisciplinary Research Institute on Sustainability)

To manage the energy transition to a more sustainable system, a new highly complex, self-balancing energy system called ‘Smart Grid’ has been initiated. Smart grid is a process of defining and developing intelligent control technologies to control and coordinate flexible consumption in order to maintain a balance between production and consumption in the overall energy system. The smart grid vision and the development of smart grid solutions are influenced by often conflicting interests and objectives among actors involved in the grid, which make smart grids very weak in performance and do not contribute to realign and bring closer providers, intermediating managers and end-users. This is one of the reason why, despite the plethora of R&D and demonstration projects, only little has been achieved in terms of actually realising the smart grid visions fully. There is still a gap between the ideas of the future smart grid system and the practical realisation of these ideas.
This communication is aimed at contributing to fill up this gap developing a system to manage smart grid at the urban district level. Moreover, the integration of information technologies and sensors of many kinds allows the collection of an increasing amount of data. Finding the rights places and roles for data and sensors is the other key challenge to deal with if the deployment of smartness in energy systems is to be achieved.
In this communication, the results of a qualitative research centered around a district heating system will be discussed. Fifty interviews and six focus groups have been carried out in Turin (Italy), town where almost two thirds of the population is served by district heating. Experts of different backgrounds, citizens, as well as City Council’s representatives have been involved into a project aimed at co-designing tools for the visualization and simulation of feedbacks related to thermal energy issues at the neighborhood level. Mapping activities have been carried out related to: the features of the human actants currently playing a role in the district heating grid, the current as well as the imagined technical apparatuses, the relations linking all of them with each other, the problematizations of which they are carrier.

KEY WORDS: smart grids, district heating, socio-technical systems, energy feedbacks, co-design.

Smart grid research and the design of their users.

Georgia GAYE (ULB/Sustainable Development Studies Centre)
Grégoire WALLENBORN (ULB/Sustainable Development Studies Centre)

As part of the 20-20-20 target set by the European Union, the Walloon Region has decided to fund the FLEXIPAC project that seeks to evaluate the potential of flexibility of heat pumps system (via the conversion of electricity into heat). The electricity network faces an increasing part of intermittent renewable energy production, which requires to find processes of upward and downward balancing on the low and medium voltage grid.
We worked as sociologists and designers on the project, in collaboration with engineers and economists, in order to evaluate the potential flexibility of users having a heat pump. In order to collect accurate data on energy consumption, smart meters have been installed in 70 households and 15 small businesses who have all heat pumps. During our field analysis, we interviewed twice 29 participants, conducted three focus groups and realized several online questionnaires. We compared respondents’ statements to their actions in order to focus on their domestic practices. We have investigated the following research questions: how do householders manage their comfort? How do they use and control their heating system? How do respondents manage their electricity consumption? Are they willing to delegate the management of their devices to external operators?
The analysis of our data yields to four types of profiles in our sample (although initially biased): the economist, the technician, the ecologist and the balanced. This typology of user is used to translate to the project partners, the variety of participants’ interest to flexibility and the diversity of logics present in their actions.
In the paper we show how these profiles are related to the logics which preside over their actions such as: economic calculation, ecological practices, technical practices, appropriation of the heat pump system, management of energy consumption, thermal flexibility (as stated by respondents), electricity consumption and possible shift in the timing of electricity demand.
In analysing the profiles, we show notably that the potential for flexibility and change is larger for ecologists (who have non economic values), whereas economists (who matches the neo-classical model) are little interested in saving energy. We conclude that some segments are not taken into account in the development of current policies. Today, smart grid instruments are mainly based on information, prices and technology. Environment, participation, community are hardly explored in smart grid projects although they might rally important portions of the users.

KEY WORDS: smart grid, practice theory, segmentation, user, flexibility.

Les économies d’énergie saisies à l’aulne des pratiques discursives : une approche par la casuistique.

Michèle MOINE (Université de Grenoble/Laboratoire Jean Kuntzmann)

L’analyse de l’évolution des réponses à une question ouverte posée successivement en 2009 et 2013 à deux échantillons d’habitants de la région PACA (N=1866) sur les raisons de ne pas faire des économies d’énergie a mis en évidence ce que l’on peut qualifier de « desserrement normatif » : en 2013, les habitants de Paca sont sensiblement moins nombreux (moins dix points par rapport à 2009) dans leur discours à réprouver le fait de ne pas économiser d’énergie. Parallèlement, la proportion de répondants politisant dans leurs discours les questions d’économie d’énergie – en mettant en cause les solutions d’actions publiques (Zittoun, 2013) mises en œuvre – s’avère stable (autour de 6%). Dans une perspective pragmatiste, ce sont donc des énoncés neutralisant la charge normative (absence de stigmatisation) sans toutefois dénoncer explicitement le caractère injuste de ce type de solution qui progressent sensiblement (Brugidou et Moine 2010; Brugidou 2013). Le contexte politique et économique constitue une des clefs, lisible dans ces réponses, permettant d’expliquer ces évolutions, que l’on peut apparenter à des formes d’exit (Hirschman, 1970).
A partir de la présentation de ce dispositif d’enquête original et d’un premier état des lieux permettant d’identifier et de caractériser d’un point de vue sociolinguistique des pratiques discursives liées aux économies d’énergie, cette communication se propose d’explorer une autre hypothèse que la désaffection à l’égard de la norme. Celle-ci voit dans l’examen par les personnes interrogées des conditions de l’exercice concret de la norme des raisons légitimes de différer ou d’aménager son application. Deux types d’arguments peuvent venir soutenir cette assertion :
- un argument empirique mis en évidence par l’analyse des données textuelles. L’analyse montre une focalisation plus forte en 2009 qu’en 2013 des énoncés sur le thème des économies d’énergie. Les répondants évoquent moins le principe de la norme que ses conditions concrètes d’application et les difficultés éventuelles qu’elles entraînent. Bien que les répondants stigmatisent moins les déviances et politisent toujours marginalement les questions d’économies d’énergies, ils en parlent néanmoins davantage et plus précisément, leur compétence linguistique thématique progressant entre 2009 et 2013.
- un argument théorique issu de la « nouvelle casuistique » et relevant de la sociologie morale. Selon A. Jonsen et S. Toulmin (1988), « l’ambition [des casuistes] n’est pas d’élaborer ou d’appliquer des principes pour décider [de questions en rapport avec la justice sociale] : ils se proposent simplement de construire une solution acceptable à un problème ponctuel » (Goffi, 2001, p106). A rebours de l’argument Pascalien reprochant à la casuistique son approche intentionnelle et finalement son laxisme – l’intention pure exemptant des effets néfastes de l’action -, la nouvelle casuistique fait de l’examen des circonstances multiples de l’action – et non de la conscience – les conditions d’une actualisation de la norme, voire de son évolution.
Dans cette perspective, le « desserrement normatif » constaté serait à interpréter non comme un recul mais au contraire comme une forme d’approfondissement collectif, une « descente en généralité » (Rosanvallon, 2007-2008, p. 464) à travers l’exploration tous azimuts des conséquences des politiques d’économies d’énergie par les publics de ces politiques.

MOTS CLÉS : Economie d’énergie, norme sociale, énoncés de politique publique, public, pratiques discursives.


Sustainable behaviours and social psychology: An action-research for transition.

Nicolas FIEULAINE (University of Lyon 2/ Group for Research in Social Psychology)
Frédéric MARTINEZ (University of Lyon 2/ Group for Research in Social Psychology)
Yvan BIDALOT (Local Energy Agency of Lyon)
Diane GEFFROY (social psychologist)

How to raise awareness of climate issues? How to motivate the necessary transitions in lifestyles to reduce the impact of behaviour on the climate? What are the barriers and resources to develop consideration for environmental challenges? From these shared questions, the GRePS Laboratory at the Institute of Psychology works since 2012 with the Rhône Alpes network for Energy Information, which brings together actors promoting energy savings and sustainable behaviours, in its educational initiatives and actions of communication. The scientific support was based on recent research in social psychology on the process of change, temporality and persuasive communication. Beyond the theories of engagement widely disseminated among stakeholders, the approach was to examine prospects/perspectives (in time, space, social) from which individuals and groups address issues related to the ecological transition. More importantly, it was necessary to question how these individual perspectives and the frame of environmental communications are matched and as such define horizons and climates that fit more or less the groups targeted by the actions. From observations and analysis of existing action (participatory meals , communityt workshops), a training program was designed, to show by simulation exercises how psychosocial factors can be taken into account in the design of actions. A supporting program has also been conducted with environmental education stakeholders (testing of a psychosocial “hotline” offering advice for the design and animation of actions). Finally, this partnership has led to the co-design of new educational tools, especially the new calendar of seasonal fruits and vegetables, which aims to encourage the purchase of products with low environmental impact (seasonal products are more often from local production and need less energy). Designed as a field experiment, such as the accompanying communication, this calendar will be evaluate on its impact on the perceptions and practices. At the crossroad of the needs of practitioners, and the latest theoretical developments in social psychology , the whole process and its results should stimulate debate on challenges, approaches and tools to promote energy transition.


Effects of normative feedbacks on effective behaviours and on the representation of electric energy consumption and related behaviours.

Johanna LE CONTE (University of Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense/LAPPS, EA 4386)

Numerous studies illustrate the effectiveness of normative feedback in reducing energy consumption. This type of intervention seems promising in Anglo-Saxon countries (Ayres, Raseman & Shih, 2009. Petersen et al, 2007; Schultz et al., 2007; Nolan et al., 2008). Is the comparison between pairs in a French context as effective as it is in the others countries? What are the consequences of this intervention on effective behaviours and energy’s representations?
In a first study, we have implemented individualized normative feedbacks of reported habits. The aim was to observe their effects on the assessments of energy consumption (actions and consumption). The message informed the participant of its position, in comparison with the average of the least efficient energy students and the average of all students participating in the study. A second research program dealt with the influence of normative feedbacks on the use of the computer sleep mode within a professional context.
The results of the first study show that participants stated that they would perform more actions and consume less electric energy consumption in long term rather than short term. This effect is corrected through normative feedback, especially among participants that have low pro-environmental habits. These participants are more sensitive to social comparison, in comparison with participants that have stronger habits. Normative feedbacks allow for correcting these assessments. In the second study, significant changes were observed: normative feedbacks provide significant increase in setting up sleep mode, only for individuals that previously didn’t do it much. Participants who received these types of feedback subsequently adopted this behaviour. Like the study of Schultz et al. (2008), we observed a rebound effect in participants that already used the sleep mode before our study: feedbacks have a demoralizing effect and decrease performance. Adding an injunction allows us to slightly counterbalance this effect. These results indicate the need to consider past behaviours of individuals before implementing interventions such as feedbacks.

KEY WORDS: feedback, social norms, behaviours, energy conservation.

Energy Living Lab: an open innovation ecosystem for the energy transition.

Joëlle MASTELIC (University of Applied Science Western Switzerland/UASWS)

Today « Social Acceptance » in the energy field is a frequently discussed theme: how to increase the « acceptance » of users for “innovations” developed by engineers?
This action-research project builds on research in the field of Open Innovation (Chesbrough, 2003). The starting point of our work is to not consider the user at the end of the value chain, as a consumer of resources and destroyer of value, but rather place the user at the beginning of the value creation chain. In this paper, we demonstrate how the user takes part in the creation of new energy products and services in an innovation ecosystem called Living Lab, involving a partnership between public- and private-sector actors, as well as users.(Pallot et al., 2010).
In our pilot study, a physical and virtual interface has been made available for the stakeholders in the Swiss Chablais region, involving the local energy utility, public transportation company, as well as an equestrian center and association of users. Three projects have been selected to test the following hypothesis, which were validated through our work: (H1) Living Lab methods are applicable to the energy field; and (H2) ideas proposed by users are valued by public and private companies engaged in the Living Lab.
The open ideation process has generated more than 500 new ideas towards energy efficiency services. Private and public sector partners are slated to implement ideas with the highest rating, from a community of ‘experts’. We also found that methods that engage in physical contact with users seem to generate better results than methods based only on virtual interfaces. In our future research, we plan to integrate new companies into the innovation ecosystem and further understand the co-creation methods adapted in each step of the innovation process.

KEY WORDS: living lab, open innovation, regional development, energy.

Innovative metrology and eco-behaviour supporting energy transition: the MIUSEEC project within Darwin.

Aline BARLET ( S.C. Psy ECCA ; GRECAU Laboratory -ENSPABx)
Catherine SEMIDOR (GRECAU Laboratory -ENSPABx)
Jean-Marc GANCILLE (Evolution Group)
Pascale BRASSIER (Nobatek)

In 2010, the group Evolution undertakes the eco-renovation of an old heritage building, in order to propose a program of tertiary and business activities, with a willingness to become an example at all levels of energy and ecological efficiency: the Darwin eco-system.
Building on the observation that use and behaviour are a key elements and still underdeveloped in energy management, the initiators of the Darwin project want to provide the site with a metrology device to stimulate eco-friendly uses. However, it has been shown that feedback tools alone are not enough to change the behaviour of the users.
The MIUSEEC project is therefore proposing to develop a restitution interface allowing evaluating the environmental impacts of uses and behaviours. This interface will become a real eco control panel of the building, accessible in a simple and playful way, based on the principle of “gamification.”
Adopting a participatory approach, the project also aims to assist the “Darwiniens” to reduce the overall environmental costs of the functioning of the project while preserving the quality of the working environment.
MIUSEEC is based on multidisciplinary work, strongly influenced by the contribution of social sciences and the involvement of the “Darwiniens” at each stage of the project, analysis of the context and needs in the evaluation phase.
Indeed, if the prime objective of this project is to provide an interface, it should be appropriate and easy to be appropriated, meet the expectations and needs of the “Darwiniens”, in both contents and form to have a real behavioural impact.
This tool should play the role of an important “facilitating external condition” by encouraging the development of the desired eco-responsible behaviour. Especially in the case of this project the initial attitudes of the tenants are already particularly positive vis-à-vis the energy issue (support for the project, signed a green lease, …).
In brief, the MIUSEEC project attempts to answer a fundamental question on energy and environmental transition; which actions are the right ones to generate a real change in behaviour and involvement in the long-term?
Some answers emerge from the analysis of different surveys and participatory workshops conducted with Darwinians as part of this project.

KEY WORDS: energy saving, eco-responsible behaviour, metrology, participatory approach, office building.

Reflections on motivations for energy involvement: toward energy profiles?

Stéphane LA BRANCHE (Science Po Grenoble/Pacte associate Researcher)

The presentation will present transversal results from different studied undertaken on representations, values and beliefs linked to energy conservation, efficiency and management at home. The first is the Positive Energy Family Challenge; the second explored residents’ capacity at appropriating for themselves their new energy technology linked to the Greenlys smartgrid and finally, the third analyzed (from a larger European study) the capacity of energy information at modifying energy behaviours (« Empowering »). We will show through these different examples that several common energy profiles emerge. The last study however, had a specific population, much less studied by energy sociology: energy poverty-prone individuals. While the same profiles can be found in this group as in the other two, however, they show specific characteristics: they are more inclined to adopt different logics and rationalities in their energy conservation efforts, and their motivations are also more complex.
The following logics of action and engagement have been identified: comfort; economical; ecological; technophile; energyphile; and habitat (and self-) mastery.

KEY WORDS: energy, representations, behaviours, energy profiles.

Brakes and motivations to greater energy efficiency and simplicity – EMPOWERING: The example of an awareness campaign for energy savings based on the monitoring of consumption.

Robin CORDELLA-GENIN (Sciences Po Grenoble)
Stéphane La BRANCHE (Sciences Po Grenoble)
Violaine de GEOFFROY (Local Agency for Energy and Climate in the Grenoble area)

The energy transition and climate change leads policy makers to set ever more ambitious targets on energy savings. The residential sector accounting for a large part of energy consumption in France (approximately 40%), it is a key target group. Efforts to identify the right levers to accompany consumers in energy efficiency and conservation bring us to call in question the premise that improving the information delivered to consumers leads naturally to behavioural change and expected energy savings. The sociological study led under the EMPOWERING program occurs in this context.
Our research has explored perceptions on energy as well as barriers and levers playing a role – or not – in the consumer appropriation of the communication on energy consumption practices. This follows other studies led by S. La Branche on these questions in adding a new perspective focusing on fuel poor households. If these fields have been well studied in sociology, in terms of energy sociology, especially regarding recent home energy efficiency, sobriety and management (often linked to new technologies), this group of population has been less explored. Based on semi-directive interviews and in comparison with other recent studies on the same questions (see the short bibliography) the survey provides the following answers: have fuel poor consumers different energy representations from other households? Are their energy profiles any different? Are their values, motivations and barriers in terms of home energy sobriety and management different? Rather than a criticism, our survey is an in-depth study of the results already produced in this field. The first part of the intervention will present user’s profiles, their motivations, logics of action and the way their energy consumption practices are built, as a result – or functioning in autonomy. The second part will answer questions raised providing elements of explanation. This survey suggests that fuel poor motivations are not fundamentally different from those of other studies. However, there are some discrepancies between representations and energy profiles. Especially, they tend to be more different logics of actions, sometimes complementary, sometimes in opposition.


Communication and behaviour change: an analysis of 40 years of communication campaigns of the French agency for environment (ADEME) for cutting energy consumption of dwellings.

Aurélien ALFARÉ (Lyon1 University)
Benoit URGELLI (Sciences Po Grenoble)
Eric TRIQUET (ESPE of Grenoble ; Claude Bernard Lyon 1 University/S2HEPH laboratory)

Since the first oil shock in 1973, the French government is trying to influence the behaviour of households to reduce their energy consumption. To do this, they launched regularly – via the French Agency for the Environment (ADEME) – communication campaigns promoting efficient behaviour. But sociological studies (Brisepierre, 2013; Comby, 2013; Pautard, 2009) have shown that these campaigns have not led to major behavioural changes. This failure is due, at least in part, to a communication model of ADEME built around a certain representation of public and some relationship to knowledge and scientific expertise.
To explore this hypothesis, we attempted to characterize the communicative profile of ADEME and its evolution since 1973. Our study is based on a theoretical framework between didactics and communication in the perspective of science studies. We state that communication booklets of ADEME are speeches made of knowledge, sometimes controversial, and adressed to different audiences (level of knowledge, sensitivity to environmental issues, etc.) to change their energy consumption behaviour. We analyzed these booklets to clarify their discursive structure (Charaudeau, 2008), the way ADEME considers knowledge (Favre, 1997), how controversies are treated (Moreau, 2014) and the representation of public (Trench, 2008) at stake.
The results of our analysis show that the communicational profile of ADEME has been being steady for 40 years. The speech, consensual in appearance, mobilizes scientific expertise to offer solutions that households must implement to reap the benefits, primarily economic. Households are considered as a uniform public, in demand of information, and waiting for solutions to reduce their energy consumption. ADEME also exposes a “dogmatic” approach of knowledge (Favre, 1997), which tends to “cool down” controversies, such as that relating to energy-saving lamps.
While the analysis conducted here is only partial with respect to the diversity of communication strategies of ADEME for behavioural changes, we think we have begun to characterize a model of communication. Today we reformulate our hypothesis as follows: this model can be a barrier to changes in the extent that it does not sufficiently take into account the specificities of the housholds in terms of questioning, values, representation and insofar it fails to include the communicational strategies in a public perspective.

KEY WORDS: energy savings, behaviours, discourse, knowledge, publics.

Adopting of the follow-up energy consumption and its efficiency conditions on inhabitants practices.

Gaëtan BRISEPIERRE (freelance sociologist, GBS)

Public authorities decided the generalization in every french home the use of communicating meters for electricity and gas before 2020. These investments will be paid back by a tax added to energy bill and are very often justified by the alleged ability of the meters to produce energy savings. In other words they rely on the hypothesis according to which the consumer information improvement through the follow-up will incite him to adopt thriftier behaviour.
This communication aims at denying this claim by showing that information is efficient only as part of a more global plan of accompaniment to change. It relies on four fields surveys made with the actors of energy mastering sensibilisation campaign including the concept of individualised and up to date energy consumption follow up. First, system put by social lessors following the moving in a new LCB (low consumption building) or the putting up consumption TV displaying system ; second the help of Familles à Energie Positive in two french districts.
On one hand we will show that information doesn’t exist in itself, it is circulated through systems which must be fully understood by actors. The interest show by the dwellers for consumption data remains very restricted . This lack of interest is partly a result of starting in disheartening system. These data look like a possible condition of new sensibilisation system brought forward by local powers. They are both the financing medium of these campaign and also the establishment of new relations with the people concerned. Moreover, the adding up of these data allow to foresee new action possibilities of energy mastering for the housing project or an area.
On the other hand, we will show that the consumption following up services can only end up in behaviour changes lasting on condition only they are part of three levers system : cognitive, material, social. First the appropriation of gross consumption data is very relative, they become meaningful when they are associated witch concrete learning about means of action as well as a social enhancing of thrifty behaviour. Second, the material dimension of all the objects which contribute to hold up effort of transforming daily routines as well as enrolment in a long term action aiming at the building conversion. At last, all the relational dynamics which takes place among families, between participants in the same campaign and with actors finally end up in the metamorphis of pratices in the long run.

KEY WORDS: campaign awareness, behaviour changes, smart grids/smart meters, consumption follow up, accompaniment.

Linky, the making of a smart encounter.

Marc POUMADERE (Symlog Institute, Paris)
Raquel BERTOLDO (University of Aix-Marseille)

In response to climate change threats, governments aim at energy sober societies. Better efficiency is hoped through digitalizing the electric grid and electricity consumption, leading to a better awareness from the consumers about their choices and behavior. Within this plan of action, the new smart meter appears emblematic of this effort. A “smart encounter” is expected between individuals and their new meter, as the quick and rapid feedback provided about electricity consumption would allow them to experiment new practices.
Field research conducted with individuals equipped with the new meter Linky, and resting upon an ethnographic-based methodological set (group meetings, individual diary, questionnaires, interpretation) has allowed to approach the concrete appropriation on the smart meter.
Participants reasoning deals first with the goal of sustainable consumption which appears difficult to reach in everyday life, albeit globally accepted. Are then considered different levels of responsibility to be shared among the public and private spheres. Participants raise as well the contradiction between the sobriety quest and the generalized incitement to consume more. Finally, the dominant model of individual consumerism is put at a distance to consider more collaborative and friendly consumption modes.
The usefulness of feedback to realize savings is not a priori rejected and Linky seems to find his place in a “smart encounter”. However, it is necessary to underline that participants involvement in small group activities of deliberation and interpretation is likely to have facilitated the appropriation of the smart meter as a technological innovation and a public policy device. Under these conditions, a form of empowerment has strengthened the innovative capacity of participants. The new meter, invested as a social object, triggered a wider awareness of consumption which became a change issue to be investigated at several levels.
The smart appears simultaneously as a technological system, a public policy instrument, and a social object. The making of this “socio-political-technical” set is complex as each axis cannot be reduced to the others. The social object can play a central role as it makes possible a creative appropriation of technical features which contribute to the public policy of sobriety. The deployment of the new meter presents a rare opportunity to associate citizens reasoning about energy transition issues. Hence appears a test for society: is it able to decompartmentalize its functioning to effectively involve the largest number ?

KEY WORDS: Linky, feedback, ethnography, empowerment, opening.

The Energy Neighbourhood project, an example of incentive to sober energy use : what underlying dynamics ?

Evelyne CORDEAU (University of Nantes/LEMNA-TEPP)

This communication bases on the ground of studies of the thesis, worth namely the Energy Neighbourhood project. Indeed, this challenge tries to transform the lifestyles of the participants to bring them towards a sober energy use. Then, we will examine the profile of the participants in the challenge and the determinants connected to their success.
First of all, let us explain a little the challenge: it exists in France since 2008, called “Familles à Energie Positive”, set up by the association Prioriterre, as an adaptation of the challenge to the European level Energy Neighbourhoods. The objective is to reduce the energy consumptions of at least 8 % compared with the previous winter by modifying only its behaviours by eco-friendly gestures. It concerns all the eco-friendly gestures prescribed to decrease the energy connected to its heating: lower the temperature, clean its radiators, put an insulating material last one the radiator … It is also valid for energy expenditure related to the cooking, as for the spending of electricity. This challenge bases on the idea of team (the individual performances do not matter, only the reduction in all the team is significant) with a captain who serves as team leader and relay of information between families and organizer. On average, on the edition 2013-2014, the participating teams in France realized 18 % of energy saving compared with the previous year, thus beyond the fixed objective.
Thanks to the data of energy consumption of the participants of the edition 2013-2014 and to a questionnaire sent to summer 2014, we wil try to draw up several consumers’ profiles according to variables socioeconomic, the lifestyle of the family, etc., but we will also explore the causes of their success in the challenge. Indeed, we notice for example, a strong link between the appreciation of the challenge and the reduction of the energy consumption. So, we wish to highlight the process of change via notions used often in social psychology and in sociology such as the commitment, the importance of a numbered objective, the role of feedbacks namely the follow-up of the real time consumption, but also the role of the entourage that is, the power of the local social norm on the change of behaviour, or still the environmental sensibility. We hope we can also complete the analysis with a questionnaire on the sustainability of gestures on the farmer participants.
To conclude, this communication bases on the mobilization of various disciplinary fields as economics, the sociology, the psycho sociology, even the political sciences by considering the challenge for an action of public policy to reduce the CO2 emissions of its territory. So, it is important to know better the inhabitants who join voluntarily this research for sober energy use, to improve the processes of change of behaviour of the inhabitants in the fight against climate change.

KEY WORDS: environmental economics; energy behaviours; energy saving ; behavioural incentives.

Reducing domestic energy consumption with smart grids: providing support, advice and incentives to users in Japanese Smart Communities.

Benoit GRANIER (University of Lyon /Institute of Asie Orientale-IAO – UMR 5062)

To tackle the energy transition challenge, a consensus has been reached on the need for dramatic social and technical changes to take place. In particular, individuals are encouraged to change their behaviour and way of life. They are urged not only to reduce their energy consumption, but also to live with and adapt to a number of technical devices expected to lead to significant energy savings.
However, actual results very often unmet these expectations (Renauld 2012, Zélem 2010), especially and more recently in the case of smart grids. Indeed, on the one hand users do not take part in the conception and design of technology and services that hardly take into consideration their daily practices; on the other hand, little support is provided for residents who have difficulty using the devices and consequently do not behave in the predicted way (Zélem, Gournet & Beslay 2013, Strengers 2013).
This paper aims to focus on smart grid-centred projects which, although not involving users at an early stage, go beyond the mere and insufficient information delivery (Bartiaux 2008) since they implement ambitious coaching and support programmes, while adjusting the services and technologies to users’ feedback. The four Japanese Smart Communities, which have been selected and supported by the Japanese government since 2010, are such projects. Therefore, the proposal intends to study the combination of such support and advice provision with the implementation of manifold economic, game-based, social and moral incentives. Last but not least, the objective is also to analyse the results in terms of energy use, and to identify the limits of such a strategy.

KEY WORDS: Smart Grids, energy transition, domestic consumption, behaviour change, Japan.

Mastering the energy efficient renovation and social housing information systems.

Christophe BESLAY (BESCB)

In France, nearly 10 million people living in social housing, 755 social landlords manage some 4.2 million homes. These units concentrated in households greater social difficulty (aging, insecurity, poverty, energy insecurity, etc.). For their part, social landlords are changing their heritage to efficient buildings (construction and renovation of BBC type) that alter the ways of living. Accompanying tenant becomes a condition of the energy performance of new housing and the prevention of fuel poverty.

Communication based on the experience of Pas-de-Calais Habitat, 3rd public office habitat in France, with around 40,000 units, which arises innovative lessor brings new technical solutions and listening to his tenants. In the context of two European program (IFORE – Innovation for Renewal – and EnergyTic) Pas-de-Calais Habitat has implemented a socio-technical approach based on: 1) an innovative renovation operation of individual houses (exterior insulation walls waterspouts pariétodynamiques windows, etc.), 2) the organization of group activities: technical workshops, inter-site, Channel visits festivities visits, etc. 3) Energy information with service monitoring of energy on digital tablets including more than 300 were distributed to volunteers households, 4) consumption recruiting a team of Ambassadors habitat, 5) the evolution of the profession of personal proximity with nearly 600 will be trained to support tenants in energy efficiency.

The analysis of these operations shows that technical solutions are not enough, but must be accompanied by human actors trust. The energy efficiency is in fact a pretext for the establishment of new relations of proximity between the landlord and tenants, opening non-stigmatizing manner on all issues confronting tenants (health, isolation, financial, etc.). For their part, the personal proximity see their business significantly upgraded from claims management and garbage, and the socio-technical council to listen to the problems of households. These guidelines scrambling forms of management and the entire organization of the lessor must adapt its internal workings and open up new services to the person.

KEY WORDS: social housing renovation, energy information, socio-technical support, changing business.

The importance of sociological factor in the Watt & Moi trial, an online electricity consumption monitoring system.

Mikaël LEGROS (Senzo, Institute of Sociological Studies and Marketing)
Émilie BLOSSEVILLE (Senzo, Institute of Sociological Studies and Marketing)
Fabien COUTANT (Atlante&Cie, Consulting firm in energetic strategy)

ERDF, the distribution system operator and GRANDLYON HABITAT, the social landlord of Greater Lyon, have carried out the Watt & Moi trial for two years : 1116 households with Linky smart meters have had free access to their detailed energy consumption data via a secured Internet website and have received educational support.
The combination of sociological surveys and quantitative analysis, both completed during the Watt & Moi trial, enabled a in-depth analysis of the tenants’ acceptance of the device, their use of it and their behavior evolution regarding energy management. The project was run under the auspices of the french energy regulator called as “Commission for Energy Regulation”. The results were regularly communicated to all energy stakeholders.
This experiment is unique in France. Two years after its beginning, it demonstrated that the adoption of a service such as Watt & Moi is based primarily on a suitable education and a favorable behavioral inheritance. The service has been much appreciated by the users and consulting it became an habit like the consultation of bank accounts or news websites. Watt & Moi proved to be an effective awareness tool, that empowers consumers, encourages them to better track their energy expenditure and guide their energy-management practices.

KEY WORDS: Linky; energy management; education; website; changes in behavior.


Smart grids demonstration and the responsive electricity consumer.


This paper is concerned with the coming into being of a new type of consumer in the electricity sector which we choose to name “responsive consumer”. ‘Responsive’ echoes to ‘demand-response’, a term used by actors in the electricity sector in order to point at the possibility for the electricity demand – so, for the electricity consumer – to become reactive to price signals. This reactive consumer is a consumer amenable to price incentives, to contributing into peak load shading by shifting his/her demand and uses in time, so taking part into the balancing of the electricity grid.
“Responsive” also echoes to “responsible” which refers to the integration of an environmental concern that translate in a certain care towards one’s energy consumption. The responsive consumer might thus also respond to other non-price signals such as grid congestion signals, non-wind generated, polluted electricity signals, etc.
“Smart grid” is, in the energy sector, the key techno-economic object that supports the construction of the responsive consumer. Important investments have been undertaken by governments, energy companies and manufacturers on smart grids in Europe and in the United States. “Smart grid” designates a bi-directional grid, conveying both energy flows and real-time information both in top-down and bottom-up directions. The smart grid thus opens up new possibilities for grid management.
In the field of smart grid, a key dimension that has emerged since 2011 in EU policy documents is the construction of the future consumer, as a new entity that has to emerge in order for smart grid to become a viable technology. The construction of this future user of smart grids is at the heart of the visions about these grids and of the emerging business models around them. In France and the EU, these visions are operationalized through what is called “demonstration”. At the intersection of technology and politics, the demonstration aims at bringing R&D results on smart grids at the “industrial scale” in an effort to develop market out of research. While “demonstrators” are the sites whereby the processes to make up this new consumer take place, this making up is embedded in the broader RTD “demonstration” policy style and settings.
The contribution is a work in progress. It is an attempt at proposing an analytical framework which allows us to follow the construction of the responsive consumer through the situated processes of material agencements – the demonstrator sites – while accounting for the broader embedding of these agencements in the EU demonstration technopolitics.
The paper proceeds in three steps. The first part of the paper will present our material and analytical framework. The second part turns to analyzing the consumer / demonstration articulation in both EU and French smart grid techno-politics. The third part focuses on one specific demonstration space where a controversy arose around the scripting of the responsive consumer into one smart grid device (the meter).

KEY WORDS: electricity, responsive, consumer, demonstration, EU, France.

Social acceptance or socio-political, collective and market conditions for the development of innovations in the field of energy?

Pierre FOURNIER (University of Aix-Marseille /LAMES, UMR 7305, CNRS)
Frédéric RYCHEN (University of Aix-Marseille /GREQAM, UMR 7316, CNRS-EHESS)

We speak about social acceptance when technical and economic proposals that are supposed to address issues provoke strong opposition from users or potential users. The project leader tends to analyze this opposition as the rejection of a satisfactory solution according to his point of view. The notion of social acceptance is then mobilized to understand the “social” reasons for rejection and, after identification, to find bypass or compensation devices in order to cause binding to the proposed project that will lead to its implementation.

The strongest pitfall in this way of approaching the problem of social acceptability and in the way of mobilizing social sciences for that (often as intermediaries to solicit the support of public action) is the belief in the robustness of the technical and economic solution proposed and in hope that the addition of socio-political devices, such as information sessions or debate, injunction frames… could help to understand the profound rationality of the project and so to remove the major part of the opposition.

Our proposal, based on examples of difficulties around smartgrid projects and use of di-hydrogen to enrich fuel gas, is to consider that the social acceptability issue is more complex and often refers to the unilateral definition of solution and to poorly calibrated techno-economic features. The “social” acceptability of projects is multi-dimensional and include a socio-political acceptability, a collective acceptability and a market acceptability.
- The socio-political acceptability covers the involvement of support and promotion devices, the involvement of regulations devices that structure communication, regulatory environment and the incentives of all players around the project for changes in behavior.
- The collective acceptability is built by reference to the local effects of the project on a community that aggregate both its direct effects and all the externalities, positive and negative, benefits and complications, by which the conditions of life of some people are changed or affected by the project.
- The market acceptability refers to the expression of a demand and to the project’s ability to offer a clear added value in the form of uses, products or services corresponding to the satisfaction of unknown needs or corresponding to the improving the satisfaction of identified needs. Keeping in mind that the market gives their part to economic resource inequalities to obtain that satisfaction but forgets that the markings on social prestige or ethnicity, ethical recognition… may be other drivers of individual commitment to the new practice.


Mesurer, tarifer, vendre l’électricité. La place du client particulier dans les processus de conception et de gestion du compteur d’électricité communicant.


The liberalization of electric markets gives a key role to customers in the organization and production of energy system. With the example of new experiments and digitalization of the meters in France (« smart meters »), the paper focuses on the relationship between electric meters and daily uses. Observing the uses of the electricity meter, many elements are striking. The electricity meter seems trivial in most social practices: it is a “black box” and that doesn’t attract the interest of the user. Nevertheless, public authorities, industrials, energy suppliers or consumer organizations try to encourage new uses of electric meters. Indeed, the infrastructure is often presented as a customer tool to save energy and money. At the same time, with new experiments (2010-2011), electric meters were the source of multiple conflicts between customers and energy companies, and others (local authorities, centralized administration): overbilling, health risks, refusing to cooperate).
We put the question from the point of view of electric organization in charge of the professional use of the electric meters and energy distribution. From design process to daily uses in the houses and the small companies, the electric meter seems the result of the co-construction of the customer satisfaction and others daily work commitments. Contrary to another devices and goods, the electricity is distributed to 35 million customers (town offices, households, craftsman, etc.). The mass consumption of electricity is measured and billed with meters, which are settled by customers, and far away to the energy companies.
We will pay attention to the technical developments and a few daily uses of electric meters thanks to an extensive field doctoral survey through the “social worlds of electric meters”. The analyse exposes an unexpected light to the mass consumption of electricity through meters, which the aim is to sustain in domestic spaces and small companies. From the perspective of the organization, the smart meter finally appears as a tool of « customer satisfaction » which gives answers to the professionals in “front office” to resolve customers’ problems. The installation of new smart meters removes the “old” and hacked meters. At the same time the e-maintenance of the electric meter by the back-office employees enhances liability and billings precision, one of many reasons of the customers reclaiming. Furthermore, rather an energy transition tool, the electric meter appears to a tool to moralize the billing of electricity, through the uses and technical content of smart meters.

KEY WORDS: smart meters, design process, uses, conflicts, customer satisfaction.

Technology is the answer. But what was the question?

Marie-Haude CARAËS ( Graduate School of Fine Arts of Tours)

Electric network have being using for a long time, in a dedicated and closed form electronic communication and information systems for data transmission, useful for production management, transport and distribution of energy. The challenge now is to create communication and exchange networks based on decentralized and open approach to develop a more flexible management, more agile in electrical energy production in real time to the end consumer – the smart grids. Communication should be two-way, producers, distributors must be informed of the request in real time and end customer must be informed of network status to make decisions: launching the washing machine later on, turn off appliances, etc. This approach relies on two sides: the development of interfaces between communications systems, information and production supply on one side and demand on the other side . “The smart grid approach requires a layer of services and applications that provide for network users accessibility to information, relevant analyses, logging and the ability to react by activating appropriated functionalities or by adjusting the behavior of power consumption in real time. »
Energy interfaces existed before smart grid. If their existence precedes the smart grid, they are nevertheless to grow and become more complex in the infrastructure of smart grid. What is the role of the different interfaces? Where are they installed? What forms do they take? What data do they collect? What information does they transmitted? How these devices are used ? Is What actions of control could they be able to engage. How does the actual development of interfaces (information design, gestures, etc.) influenced the design of energy interfaces? The state of the art in energy interfaces carry out from the creative disciplines, which a synthesis will be presented in this communication aims to/give answers to these questions by identifying, describing, sorting and classifying the energetic interfaces most innovative internationally – those already effective and those to be in the deployment of smart grid strategy: domestic interfaces (part 1) and collective interfaces to the scale of the building and the urban(Part 2). This state of the art inform at the end the smart grid technical-social stake via the inventory of projects that organize the data processing harvested and transmitted (part 3).


Eco-behaviours and practices.

Farid ABACHI (Union Sociale de l’Habitat)

As part of the implementation of its commitments to new construction and renovation of existing buildings in a heritage high environmental quality and high performances, and in a context of high economic and social crisis affecting the poorest tenants, the Movement of social housing organisation is strongly mobilized to conduct operations including cost control related to energy issues, particularly for its poorest tenants.

The results of previous studies show a significant reduction in energy consumption through optimal combination of three factors:
- Passive technical components through an enhanced quality (insulation …)
- Active technical components with the establishment of efficient equipment to control effectively,
- A behavioural aspect by the awareness of tenants and local stakeholders, by their ability to control energy demand.

The implementation conditions showed the limits of overbidding of the performances oriented towards intrinsic technical efficiencies only. Therefore, it is necessary to take into account the behavioural components in devices for controlling energy consumption. However, initial feedback has shown the impact of these active and passive innovative solutions on behaviours for a “good” use of the new equipment installed: they disrupt the customs, lifestyles and habits acquired. It requires a real ownership of the devices by tenants in these high-performing building at risk of cancellation of expected gains (“rebound effect” or expression of new aspirations of comfort, malfunctions, sanitary and technical risks).

Therefore, it is necessary to take into account the behavioural components.
Many social housing organisations have initiated devices awareness and accompaniment of their tenants, for controlling energy consumption. A first view have showed the range of these actions, between those aimed at realise of the increased performance of a building by its users, those that form the tenants at proper functioning of equipment and those that show “good “actions and behaviours to follow – at the risk of resistance in behaviour and deviance in use.
Union sociale pour l’habitat and Caisse des Dépôts et Consignation launched a study to complete a panorama and evaluate these actions, led by social housing organisations to their tenants. What are the expected, their scope, relevant indicators, risks and limits…?

Our contribution will present the findings of this study, which aims to support the social landlords in the implementation of such devices to their employees and tenants.

MOTS CLÉS : Accompaniments, Social Housing Organisation, tenants, mastery of energy consumption, Fight against the rebound effect.

A view of household energy consumption and reflexivity: building a culture of domestic energy use through information..

Christèle ASSEGOND (University François Rabelais-TOURS/CETU ETIcS ; CITERES)

For a long time seen as a passive or even an ignorant posture, the citizen consumer is today given notice to take an active part in energy transition. But how to involve them in a process which certainly concerns them, but whose collective issues are most of the time too vague for them? One of the ways being actively explored is based on the hypothesis that access to information on the consumption of energy will contribute to modification of the perception of households and lead in an almost mechanical manner to energy conservation. From an institutional point of view, the performance of this information distribution is generally evaluated through a unique technico-economic criteria whose pertinence is widely debated. Researchers attempt today to qualify more closely the links between information and an understanding of energy issues. Studied from a sociological observation of the receptivity, over the long term, of a technical device which shows electrical consumption, the collaborative research project AffichEco conducted from 2010 to 2013 in the Center region (France) shows some details which elucidate these links. Thorough interviews and observations of thirty households show that the information did not act as a stimulus calling for simple action in return but that the information engages processes of a complex nature which participate largely in the construction of a culture of Energy. If it does not lead to immediately perceptible energy conservation, this culture does constitute an indispensable beginning to an understanding of energy issues by the households, and, in fact, to their active engagement in an attempt to control energy consumption. These results invite us to consider the evaluation of the efficiency of these devices which show energy consumption no longer only from the angle of energy conservation in the short term but equally from that, much more strategic, of the long term, from assistance to change.

MOTS CLÉS : information, energy consumption, culture of energy.

A view of household energy consumption and reflexivity: building a culture of domestic energy use through information.

Violeta RAMIREZ (Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense University)

Contemporary lifestyles are energy-greedy and fossil energies-dependent: they have serious consequences on our present environment and on the quality of life of future generations. Some people however have realized that a model premised on perpetual growth is illusory and harmful. In order to lessen the impact of their actions on the environment, they have changed their everyday habits concerning housing, transport, food supply, waste management, and turned to alternative and frugal practices.
Using visual anthropology methodological tools, I carry out a filmed ethnography of these individuals, avant-gardist in terms of their environmentally-concerned lifestyles. I film and interview these people about their daily practices: food and objects supply, waste management, transportation, generation of renewable energies, etc. In this paper, I’ll present three individual profiles involved in energy sobriety, with the aim of describing their practices, analyzing the personal motivations behind the adoption of this lifestyle and understanding the imaginaries of future underlying these practices.

MOTS CLÉS : Degrowth, energy sobriety, visual anthropology, filmed ethnography, ecological crisis.