Every second Wednesday, the Circular Industries Talks are organised at the Circular Industries Hub. On Wednesday January 25, Gijs van Leeuwen, PhD candidate at the faculty of Industral Design Engineering at TU Delft, presented about his research on the Design Anthropology of Local Energy Markets using various ethnographic and participatory design methods.
Social dimensions of the energy transition: Towards circularity in system architecture, design process, and power relations
The energy transition is a social as well as a technical transition. Besides challenges such as grid congestion, increasing renewable generation and providing storage capacity, new forms of social and political organization are emerging, including energy communities and cooperatives, prosumer households and new types of energy markets. Whilst they hold interesting promises and opportunities, new challenges emerge as a result. To take a systemic view and address technological and social challenges in a holistic manner, we need new types of transdisciplinary action research methods that experiment with design tools and solutions in a practical manner.
A localized, context-sensitive approach is required to provide participatory opportunities for those citizens who are interested, yet also cater to those who wish to be unburdened.
Design Anthropology is a new approach within design that aims to do this. Combining perspectives and methods from both design and anthropology, the resultant approach is both goal-oriented and reflective. Within the Local Inclusive Future Energy (LIFE) Project, this approach is used to consider the interests of residents from a local neighborhood, and other stakeholders, in the design of an innovative smart energy management system in Amsterdam South-East.
- Energy cooperatives and communities may benefit substantially from the energy transition, yet are not accessible for all citizens and neighborhoods
- Whilst citizen participation and democratization are important goals, not all citizens are able or willing to engage pro-actively with such complicated issues
- A localized, context-sensitive approach is required to provide participatory opportunities for those citizens who are interested, yet also cater to those who wish to be unburdened
- Design tools and methods may help to navigate power relations and mediate collective decision making between citizens, institutions and other stakeholders
- In designing the future energy system, a perspective shift is required that:
- Considers people not just as users but as full citizens
- Considers social and cultural aspects as well as behaviour and psychology
- Considers power relations in both the design process and its outcome
- Takes into account the institutional context of research, development and design
- Aims to design systems, institutions and narratives rather than products and services
Curious about Gijs van Leeuwen's talk?
The Circular Industries talks
The goal of the Circular Industries talks is to share knowledge across Leiden, Delft and Erasmus and to complement and deepen the knowledge already available within the Circular Industries Hub. The talks are organized on Wednesday morning from 10:00 to 11:00. The talks are online (Microsoft Teams).