Successful neighbourhood approach: motivate residents

What exactly must be done, by whom and when in order to make large-scale, natural gas-free neighbourhoods possible? That is the question that researchers at ECN part of TNO are looking at. It is already clear that the involvement of the residents, both owners and tenants, is to a large extent central to the success. Too often, decisions on the gas liberalisation of neighbourhoods are still taken over their heads.

In order to make municipalities gas-free, much more is needed than the development of technological solutions, which, incidentally, largely come from ECN part of TNO. This research is concerned precisely with the combination of technology and human behaviour. The question is whether and how residents can be influenced and stimulated to switch to other forms of energy.

Motivating owners

Owners of homes that they occupy or rent out form the starting point for the research. On the basis of extensive interviews, a good picture emerges of what motivates them and how they can be encouraged to shift from gas. In addition to home owners, other parties involved, such as municipalities and grid operators, were also questioned. This first study should make clear what is important to owners, their willingness to change their situation and what is needed to do this.

Choices based on facts

The policy pursued by the central government and many municipalities to completely switch off the gas is relatively recent. But there is still a lack of sufficient insight into which paths to take. There appears to be a great need for objective figures in discussions that are often conducted on the basis of emotions. And residents often feel surprised by the decision of their municipality or energy company to make the district gas-free in the long run. ECN part of TNO wants to support all parties in making the right choices on the basis of well-founded facts.

Learning from each other

Within ECN part of TNO, technologists, behavioural scientists and energy experts work together to make neighbourhoods free of natural gasin a way that is acceptable to everyone. Thanks to their broad knowledge, they also have an overview of the total energy system and can relate making neighbourhoods gass-free to other available energy sources. By making the knowledge gained in a municipality or district available, other parties can learn from successes or mistakes made.

Providing insight into the consequences

In various projects for municipalities and the government in particular, it becomes clear what possibilities there are at specific locations for heating without natural gas and what the consequences are, from living comfort to the necessary energy grids. This enables parties to make informed decisions using scientifically based methods. They can also use energy models to simulate and calculate certain situations, which also makes it possible to monitor how decisions are put into practice once they are taken.

Towards an energy-producing environment

Dr Ruud van den Brink

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Dr Ruud van den Brink

  • Energy Transition Studies
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