1. Introduction

The public will have a crucial role to play in reducing CO2 emissions to the level required by UK policy; this role extends beyond the public being mere consumers of energy and users of energy technologies, they can also act as prosumers, as citizens with voting powers, and as active protesters or proponents of infrastructures. As a result, the public will be key to the successful implementation of change processes.

With the support of a number of experts in this area, the Energy Generation and Supply Knowledge Transfer Network (EG&S KTN) has produced this report, which provides an overview of the current research on public perception and engagement with energy technologies and how this may impact on the energy industry.

Although the content of this report is relevant to all organisations active in the energy sector, it has been tailored to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who may not have had exposure to this research or who may not have previously engaged with the public to any great extent.

The report aims to provide the energy industry and policy makers with:

  • A common understanding of the terms public perception, public acceptance and public engagement and the differences between them;
  • Case studies on public engagement at varying technology scales;
  • Examples of where a lack of public engagement has been detrimental to emerging energy markets; and
  • A means to improve engagement throughout the technology development process.

The objective is to provide a common vocabulary and highlight to the energy generation and supply community that engaging people with technology is not only important from the perspective of user satisfaction, but can provide market advantages and increase both speed and scale of market penetration.

With this in mind the key research questions the report is envisioned to answer are: "Why should the energy industry be concerned with public engagement with energy technologies?" and "What are the associated benefits of engaging people with energy technologies?"