Energy transition awareness: Can it guide local transition planning on islands?

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Energy transition awareness: Can it guide local transition planning on islands?

Title: Energy transition awareness: Can it guide local transition planning on islands?

Authors: Andrew Barney, Heracles Polatidis, Stergios Vakalis, Dominique Grondin, Michel Benne, Fausto Sainz Salces, Dias Haralambopoulos

Abstract: The consequences of climate change and reduced energy security are becoming increasingly apparent, especially on islands. At the same time, the energy transition is quickly spreading and its value to society becoming clearer. Two main obstacles to this transition, rigid policy and lack of local understanding, are particularly troubling on islands, where national policies often aren’t flexible enough to consider local particularities and residents are exposed to different energy realities from those on the mainland. Using exploratory interviews and a survey on four islands, this article considers island residents’ awareness of energy transition concepts and presents how it interacts with, and is potentially influenced by, relevant energy policies at the national level. The paper presents the comparative results for the geographically, demographically and climatologically diverse islands of Gotland (Sweden), Lesvos (Greece), La Réunion (France) and Mallorca (Spain) to focus on European island energy transitions. Differences were noted between the islands’ residents with regards to awareness of and willingness to use specific energy transition tools or to join activities like energy communities. Additionally, differences were noted between the islands for what was the most important reason to consider when using demand response, though ‘Ease of use’ was important across all. The potential reasons for differences among the islands are discussed and suggestions to increase consumer engagement with energy transition activities on islands are given. Overall, the results show that while awareness of energy concepts isn’t greater on these European islands, interest in prospective transition actions was high and provide an opportunity for planners to capitalize on. However, if there are potential policy obstacles, these higher levels of interest cannot ensure higher levels of willingness to engage. Taken together, these two findings indicate the potential for an acceleration of transition activity on these islands, and potentially beyond, should engagement with island residents be increased along with review, and amendment of policies impeding it.