How do individuals and organizations talk about the transition to renewable energy sources in their public online conversations? How can the Social Web inform energy policy?
A crucial component of a viable strategy for the transition to sustainable and renewable energy sources is the public's involvement and perception. As part of MILESECURE 2050, a European Commission project aiming to understand the challenges of this transition, we have analyzed a number of early examples of projects and communities in Europe that are leading the way to a low-carbon society. To understand the mix of views surrounding each of these anticipatory energy projects in the social web, we extract the relevant conversations in Twitter for each of them and analyze their content across a number of dimensions. Our goal is to provide policy makers with one more tool in assessing the public's feedback and involvement.
Based on the combination of prevalence of each type of user and the corresponding content, we discerned a high level categorization of each projects into those where conversations are driven more by the sustained activities of the community and others where technology is the main engine. Positive sentiment prevails across the board, for both types of projects, a strong indication that the European public is willing to embrace further policies that aim at reducing carbon. However the level of engagement of different types of actors varies a lot. Governments in particular, both national and local, record the lowest engagement, showing that a greater effort may be required to increase the awareness of individuals around ongoing energy transition initiatives.
This research was developed within the FP7-SSH-2012-2 project Milesecure-2050 "Multidimensional Impact of the Low-carbon European Strategy on Energy Security, and Socio-Economic Dimension up to 2050 perspective"