05.01.2018 change 05.01.2018

Expert: Independence from the power grid is among the things expected of renewable energy sources

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

In the field of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency, one can notice interest in "portable" energy, independent of the power grid, and the ability to monitor electricity consumption - told PAP Dr. Agata Stasik, sociologist from the Kozminski University.

Dr Stasik came to these conclusions as a result of a research project, in which she analysed projects related to renewable energy appearing on crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter.

"Contrary to appearances - after all we are talking about complicated, difficult projects - such data can tell us a lot about the RES market potential and consumer demand in this area - said Dr. Stasik in an interview with PAP. - This is because on websites such as Kickstarter we meet, to a large extent, a very specific group of recipients. They are so-called early adopters - users who are very interested in innovative technologies and follow new developments in these areas."

According to the analysis carried out by Dr. Stasik, two types of projects enjoy the greatest interest among users of crowdfunding websites.

"These are primarily off-grid projects that allow you to power devices without connecting to the power grid. We care about energy autonomy" - said the expert. She added that the inventors propose, for example, improved solar-powered mobile chargers. Typically, these types of portable devices allow to supply electricity to small devices such as phones. "The popularity of such projects, however, signals the existence of a large demand for an independent energy source" - she assessed.

The second popular type of project is related to the idea of a smart home. "This includes, for example, real-time electricity consumption monitoring systems that allow to control the level of electricity consumption in our homes" - Dr. Stasik explained.

"This shows that the modern consumer is more and more aware of energy issues: he wants to know where energy comes from and wants to influence it" - said the scientist.

As another example of an interesting variety of social financing of renewable energy sources, Dr. Stasik named crowdfunding that connects investors. "We ourselves might not have the resources to build our own power plant based on renewable energy sources, such as a wind farm - but this model allows to become its co-owner, together with, for example, a thousand other people" - said Dr. Stasik. She added that this model is supported by the European Union; its examples can be found at https://citizenergy.eu/.

As part of a research project funded by the Prelude grant of the National Science Centre, Dr. Agata Stasik analysed 90 crowdfunding campaigns. The researcher admitted that the specificity of online crowdfunding platforms means that most of these campaigns came from the USA and were financed by the inhabitants of that country. "In Poland we have only few technologically advanced projects financed socially" - noted the researcher.

She emphasised that this does not mean that the Polish people are not interested in renewable energy sources; on the contrary. According to the Public Opinion Research Center surveys from 2016, the source of electricity used in the apartment is important for nearly two thirds of Polish citizens, and 52 percent of us would be willing to pay more for energy if it came from renewable sources. "Generally speaking, Polish citizens are positive about RES. The obstacle in their development are legal conditions - added Dr Stasik - In Poland we can use independent, small +gadgets+ that are developed on Kickstarter, but it is more difficult to join the energy revolution on a slightly larger scale: as a prosumer, producer and consumer of electricity simultaneously".

The researcher noted that the legal conditions around renewable energy are a complicated matter, but proposed a few ways to encourage Polish citizens to invest in RES.

"The system of guaranteed tariffs is often considered to be the most favourable for the development of renewable energy in the prosumer model. It guarantees the price at which we can sell the energy we produce to the grid" - she explained. In her opinion, an incentive for producing renewable energy sources could be, for example, an introduction of "guaranteed tariffs" for energy from all types of renewable energy micro-installations up to 5 kW. "In the next few years, users\' own micro installations may be an incentive to buy and use an electric car, promoted by an electromobility program - as a solution that reduces the cost of using such a car" - she noted.

PAP - Science in Poland

author: Katarzyna Florencka

kflo/ agt/ kap/

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