Delivering carbon-neutral goals through smart social learning in communities: A cross-cultural analysis of three Asian cities (Kyoto, Seoul and Hong Kong)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Carbon neutrality and deep decarbonisation are needed to avoid catastrophic climate impacts. Government intervention and market approaches are insufficient to deliver ambitious carbon- neutral targets. Citizen engagement has become an increasingly important approach to achieving carbon-neural goals. When supported by smart energy technologies such as smart meters and home energy storage systems, households can change from passive end-users to proactive engagers in energy transitions. They can play active roles in energy saving and producing renewable electricity both at home and in communities. However, these smart human-technology interactions differ in impacts and forms in various national, city, and local community contexts. How and under what condition that households develop positive, new relationships with their communities, utilities, and governments so that the full potential of end-user driven smart energy transitions can be realised?

This is an important question that has yet to be answered. This is an interdisciplinary, comparative case study of smart end-user driven energy transitions in three East Asian cities (Kyoto, Seoul and Hong Kong), involving a total of 150 households. The study aims to explore how smart social learning processes can be scaled up to enable long-lasting changes in residential energy behaviour with a focus on energy saving and solar adoption at the community scale. We aim to develop an integrated conceptual framework that adopts a cross-cultural perspective to conceptualising the social learning mechanisms of end-user driven energy transitions. In the context of smart grid developments, social learning is defined as learning through social interaction that emphasises (i) data-enabled envisioning (what an end-user can aspire what he or she can do); (ii) experimentation (trying out innovative local initiatives in community settings); and (iii) deliberative participation (through which to, for example, make informed decisions on trade- offs). The cross-cultural perspective compares the public values, social norms and household energy practices across the three cities, exploring the importance of energy culture in shaping and limiting the smart social learning of end-users.

This 30-month interdisciplinary, mixed-method project will build a unique dataset mainly through testing an integrated intervention approach of household energy behavioural changes in three case communities (one case community in each of the three cities). This approach will combine the provision of app-based information (that is supported by smart sensor enabled big data analytics), carbon coin incentive scheme and community engagement activities. Our analysis will combine quantitative (including real-time data of electricity consumption, solar generation, and carbon coin transactions) and qualitative data (from household interviews, envisioning workshops, deliberative dialogues, and focus group meetings).

The comparative East Asian perspective of this project is unique. Japan, South Korea, China, and other economies in the region are the pace-setters of global energy demand as well as green technological innovations. The three case cities and three embedded case communities are carefully chosen to represent localities with differing national contexts and contrasting stages of electricity market liberalisation.

This interdisciplinary project will be delivered by a 13-member international research consortium which is part of a longstanding research network at HKBU’s Asian Energy Studies Centre. Our consortium is affiliated with five research institutions and a policy network of six collaborators. The project’s outputs will include a special journal issue, four papers and a set of three policy briefs and action plans for city policymakers.
Effective start/end date1/01/23 → …


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.