SONNET (Social Innovation in Energy Transitions) aims co-create a rich understanding of the diversity, processes, contributions, success and future potentials of social innovation in the energy sector.
Transforming European energy systems into more secure, sustainable, competitive and affordable configurations by the middle of the 21st century has become a priority in the European Union. In particular, academics and civil society actors have drawn attention to the widely neglected social dimensions of sustainable energy transitions as an important factor to further this goal. This is where SONNET comes into play: it aims to create an inter- and transdisciplinary understanding of the diversity and processes of social innovations in the energy sector. It assesses – critically and reflexively- the success, contributions and future potential of social innovations towards sustainable energy transitions in Europe. SONNET investigates how, to what extent and under which enabling conditions diverse types of SIE may result in new breakthroughs or successfully help to overcome transition barriers; such as limited citizen engagement or slow adoption of new technologies.
SONNET’s empirical research bridges qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches in an innovative multi-method research design. Across 30 qualitative in-depth case studies situated in six European countries, SONNET investigates the diversity, processes, success and contributions of social innovations in the energy sector. In six transdisciplinary city labs, new forms of social innovations in energy are experimented with to learn how multiple actors can harness their potential. In addition, based on three large-scale representative citizen surveys, SONNET assesses the future potential of SIE and derives implications for reconfiguring existing and developing new business models.
SONNET synthesizes its findings in an integrated knowledge framework for a socio-economic, socio-cultural (incl. gender) and socio-political understanding of enabling and impeding conditions for SIE and SIE contributions when working towards accelerating sustainable energy transitions in Europe. Through a cutting edge co-creation, dissemination and exploitation strategy, SONNET ensures that its practical recommendations, tools and capacity building activities have a maximum impact on its key stakeholders such as citizens, SIE actors, policy makers, and businesses.
DRIFT leads the work on the conceptual framework, the inter- and transdisciplinary dialogue and the overall synthesis (WP1 Concept and Synthesis). It co-chairs the academic council, and is closely involved in the socio-cultural and socio-political cross-cutting themes next to being the academic partner responsible for the empirical work in BENELUX and for the Living Lab in Antwerp.
Duration of the project
SONNET runs from June 2019 to May 2022.
SONNET is funded under the EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovations Actions (RIA) programme (Grant Agreement 837498).
Fraunhofer ISI (DE, coordinator), SPRU, University of Sussex (UK), Grenoble Ecole de Management (FR), Kozminski University (PL), Zurich University of Applied Sciences (CH), ICLEI (DE), City of Mannheim (DE), City of Antwerp (BE), City of Bristol (UK), City of Grenoble (FR) and the City of Warsaw (PL).
Julia Wittmayer, Flor Avelino, Maria Fraaije