Demand flexibility? So what? The answer isn’t blowing in the wind as literacies on energy help

It is challenging to keep oneself up-to-date with the developments in the rapidly changing energy markets. Latest research tell us that people need information and guidance for making wise choices among these seemingly ambiguous markets.

Literacies on energy issues

Professor Panu Kalmi and Post-doctoral reseacher Gianluca Trotta from the University of Vaasa are conducting research on the consumer awareness of issues related to Clean Energy. Their message is that we all need energy literacy skills in order to understand the options we have for using energy in our everyday life. Gianluca Trotta in his research has focused on the factors affecting energy-saving behavior and energy efficiency investments in British households. He brings into light the consumers’ willingness to engage in energy-efficient lifestyle. However, to succeed with this, the consumers’ awareness of how to save energy should be raised.

The same need is evident in the results of a survey on Finnish households’ willingness to participate in demand side flexibility. The study by Doctoral student Enni Ruokamo and Professor Rauli Svento was conducted as a part of BCDC Energy project in fall 2016. The survey examines households’ opinions and knowledge about energy related issues, and in particular their attitudes towards flexible pricing. The results, aligned with the ones from the British households, stress that people want to be energy-efficient. However, the terminology and structures of energy markets are hard to understand (See Table). Even for the respondents, with higher than average education, most of the energy-related terms are unknown.

Research on literacy of other important subject, namely health information, is lead by Professor Maija-Leena Huotari at the University of Oulu. In these studies a screening tool on people’s everyday life health information literacy has been developed and tested among different groups of people. Here, the question is about people’s information literacy in health context. Therefore, this tool is currently applied to understand people's energy information literacy in a survey among university students. (Read more) Also a study by Professor Kalmi on energy literacy as a part of financial literacy will be conducted as a web-based survey in Vaasa area this spring. These studies were shared and discussed among researchers at the University of Oulu in January.

In the picture: Multidisciplinary seminar in the University of Oulu. From left to right: Gianluca Trotta, Panu Kalmi, Enni Ruokamo, Maija-Leena Huotari and Rauli Svento. Photo: Anna-Maija Juuso.
 

From multidisciplinary towards interdisciplinary terminology

Ultimately the studies on literacies in the context of energy serve the need to educate consumers and promote their energy-efficient behavior. However, understanding energy terminology is a challenge, and a new domain of clean energy even more. This doesn’t concern only laypersons. Also in our multidisciplinary BCDC Energy project many terms need to be explained within the BCDC research community. We tackle this problem by explaining the essential terms one by one. This work is done by Project researcher Sanna Tuomela as part of the BCDC Energy’s interaction and knowledge creation research. big 'reduce, reuse, recycle' sign over a woman's head. Front view, only eyes seen. Blurred green background. Concept of clean energy.

The terminology research aims at documenting and sharing the knowledge on the subject matter of the project. This is done by collecting and saving the most essential terms of the BCDC Energy research into the Bank of Finnish Terminology in Arts and Sciences. It is an ambitious, wiki-based encyclopedia of terms, developed and hosted by the team lead by Professor Tiina Onikki-Rantajääskö at the University of Helsinki. Currently there are about 200 terms in the category Clean Energy Research. Brief definitions and more extensive explanations to each term will be added. Definitions will be both in English and in Finnish, explanations in Finnish at this point. Through interaction with all BCDC Energy researchers we pursue finding the most exact and understandable explanations for the terms. As the terminology on Clean Energy will be available for everyone, it allows guiding people to become more literate on energy issues.

Writers:

Maija-Leena Huotari and Sanna Tuomela, BCDC Interaction team
Contact information: firstname.surname(a)oulu.fi

Maija-Leena Huotari is Professor of Information Studies and research director of BCDC Interaction team.
Sanna Tuomela is Project researcher in the BCDC Interaction team. She is also a Doctoral student and working on her dissertation on the history of philosophy of science.

Last updated: 9/2/2017

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