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Engaging men and women in energy production in Norway and the United Kingdom: The significance of social practices and gender relations

Karina Standal, Marta Talevi, Hege Westskog

To achieve an energy transition favouring renewable energy in the face of climate change, several countries in the EU region have pursued different economic incentives to encourage citizens to invest in household solar systems. This enables citizens to become ‘prosumers’ who produce electricity for their own consumption and sell excess produced electricity to the central grid supply. Influencing people's energy consumption in this way can potentially reach EU's renewable energy targets, as prosumers add to the stock of renewable energy nationally. Through in-depth interviews with men and women from 28 households in Norway and the United Kingdom, this article explores the process of becoming a prosumer and the energy practices in prosuming households. Drawing on theories of social practice and domestication, the article pays particular attention to how the phases of appropriation, objectification, incorporation and conversion of household solar systems are gendered in the sense that women and men have different economic, social and cultural capital, and to how this influences their interaction with technology in the transition from consumers to prosumers. Viewing prosuming through the gender lens reveals how policies need to be designed to promote new practices that are attractive for a more diverse group than today's standard subsidies and feed-in tariffs if the aim is to increase the number of residential prosumers and transition to a more sustainable and equitable low-carbon energy system.

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