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Energy Boost Seed Grant Publications

Ruopu Li, Jessica Crowe, David Leifer, Lei Zou, Justin Schoof, Beyond big data: Social media challenges and opportunities for understanding social perception of energy, Energy Research & Social Science, Volume 56, 2019, 101217, ISSN 2214-6296, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2019.101217. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214629619305195)
Abstract: Social perception, i.e., public advocacy and sentiment, on various energy issues deeply affects our energy future. This type of information is traditionally collected through structured energy surveys and statistics, which is often cost-formidable and labor-intensive. As free communication platforms with massive amounts of public opinions, social media can be used as a new lens for examining the dynamics of social perception towards both fossil and renewable energy. Compared with energy surveys, the analytics of social media leverage crowd-sourced public opinions instead of those from a directed and targeted audience. Based on a preliminary pilot study, we compare Twitter-based data mining results with a recent survey in three regions with different historic ties to fossil and renewable energy. We identify the critical issues associated with social advocacy and sentiment over energy development and consumption, and summarize policy implications. Furthermore, we discuss opportunities and challenges of using social media for understanding energy-related public perception. We conclude that more social media research on energy-related perception may lead to an in-depth understanding of polarized social perception, social contexts of energy policies, and possible strategies of bridging the gaps in and expanding the energy market.
Keywords: Social perception; Social media; Survey; Representativeness; Twitter; Energy policy

Jessica A. Crowe, Ruopu Li, Is the just transition socially accepted? Energy history, place, and support for coal and solar in Illinois, Texas, and Vermont, Energy Research & Social Science, Volume 59, 2020, 101309, ISSN 2214-6296, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2019.101309. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214629618313689)
Abstract: Given a myriad of challenges and technological advancement, the energy system has been constantly evolving and transforming, which requires compatible adjustments in energy policies. For regions with highly diverse energy sources, such as the United States, it's important to not only analyze public perceptions of various energy sources, but also examine relative levels of support for energy transition policies. We examine public perceptions of two energy sources, coal and solar energy, as well as the public's support for energy transition policies that assist the transition from coal to renewable energy, specifically solar. To better understand how place influences attitudes and policies of coal and solar, we sampled respondents from three areas with varying ties to coal and solar: Saline County, IL, Houston, TX, and Burlington, VT. Our results suggest that one’s place has an important effect in differentiating the public perceptions of renewable and nonrenewable energy and for support in an energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. While residents of places with historical attachment to coal mining have positive attitudes toward coal, our data show that they have even more positive attitudes toward sustainable energy sources. These attitudes hold for future development and government assistance. If federal or state governments seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (and consequently energy from coal, a major source of greenhouse gases), solar and other sustainable energy policies need to be targeted at places with historical ties to coal and other fossil fuels to ensure a procedurally just energy transition.
Keywords: Coal; Solar; Just transition; Energy justice; Energy perceptions

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