Behavioral Science for Clean Energy Technologies
NREL behavioral and social science research helps smooth transitions to clean energy technologies and innovation by studying how people live and work.
Advanced energy technologies and informed policies are necessary but not sufficient to accelerate the energy transition at the speed required to meet our shared climate and energy resilience goals. To fully understand and implement integrated energy systems, we need to be able to model and analyze the complete system-of-systems, including the behavior of people interacting with and impacted by energy systems.
Enabling People To Embrace Clean Energy
NREL R&D teams consider not only the constraints of technology designs, the built environment, and the economy but also how societal, cultural, and even emotional factors influence decisions to embrace or reject clean energy technologies. Exploring this complex array of human and scientific considerations at the outset of projects helps set research and development priorities that will best meet the needs of each community.
Our work seeks to understand how human behavior and decisions affect the performance of energy systems and how the performance of these systems affects human well-being, with a focus on energy justice.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Communities Local Energy Action Program Pilot facilitates sustained communitywide economic and environmental benefits primarily through clean energy deployment. This opportunity is open to low-income, energy-burdened communities that are experiencing either direct environmental justice impacts or direct economic impacts as a result of the shift away from fossil fuels. Under this program, the department will provide support services valued at up to $16 million for community-driven clean energy transitions.
Addressing Diverse Clean Energy Needs
A widespread transition to sustainable energy systems will require identifying and addressing diverse needs, barriers, and concerns found in urban, suburban, exurban, and rural communities. NREL’s social scientists are working to do just that, finding the place-based, user-centric strategies and investments necessary to foster true energy equity. Learn how our mobility equity research spans the diverse needs of underserved communities.
Our behavioral and social science teams are engaging with people, organizations, and academia in cities, towns, and more remote locations, empowering them to develop clean energy solutions that offer tangible health and quality-of-life benefits specific to their communities.
Basic Research Needs To Understand the Human Dimensions of Energy Systems
Find out more about research questions and next steps in a report of the Human Dimensions of Energy Systems workshop.
Biomass Scenario Model (OpenEI)
Accelerating Demand for Residential Solar Photovoltaics: Can Simple Framing Strategies Increase Consumer Interest?, Global Environmental Change (2018)
Distributed Solar and Storage Outlook: Methodology and Scenarios, NREL Technical Report (2021)
LA100 Chapter 4. Customer-Adopted Rooftop Solar and Storage, NREL Technical Report (2021)
Looking Beyond Bill Savings to Equity in Renewable Energy Microgrid Deployment, Renewable Energy Focus (2022)
Rooftop Solar Technical Potential for Low-to-Moderate Income Households in the United States, NREL Technical Report (2018)
Storage Futures Study—Distributed Solar and Storage Outlook: Methodology and Scenarios, NREL Presentation (2021)
Linking Transportation Agent-Based Model (ABM) Outputs with Micro-Urban Social Types (MUSTs) via Typology Transfer for Improved Community Relevance, Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives (2023)
A Customizable Metric To Provide a Comprehensive Picture of the Mobility Potential of a Location, International Conference on Transportation and Development (2020)
Light-Duty Vehicle Choice Modeling and Benefits Analysis, NREL Presentation (2020)
Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicle Choice Modeling and Applied Analysis, NREL Presentation (2020)
The Transportation Energy and Mobility Pathway Options Model, NREL Presentation (2021)
Exploring PV Circularity by Modeling Socio-Technical Dynamics of Modules’ End-Of-Life Management, IEEE 48th Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (2021)Role of the Social Factors in Success of Solar Photovoltaic Reuse and Recycle Programs, Nature Energy (2021)
Of Actors, Cities and Energy Systems: Advancing the Transformative Potential of Urban Electrification, Progress in Energy (2021)
Engage the Public in Science and Embrace Future Change with Human-Centric Stories, Art, and Imaginings, Regional Conference on Permafrost 2021 and the 19th International Conference on Cold Regions Engineering (2021)
Examining Urban Inequality and Vulnerability to Enhance Resilience: Insights From Mumbai, India, Climatic Change (2016)