The 4C Electricity Project
Student Research Assistant: Katalin Lach
Research Assistant: Reka Soos
The department is participating in an EU-wide research project under the management of Diana Urge-Vorsatz. The project is supported by the European Commission’s Altener program, with some matching funding provided by Central European Univeristy.
Electricity use is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Yet the majority of consumers do not make a connection with their own electricity use and climate change. Nor do many realise that there are new opportunities for them to switch to less polluting energy sources in the liberalised electricity markets that are emerging across Europe.
An information label, showing the sources used to generate electricity, and the associated environmental implications this has, would enable consumers to make informed choices about the electricity product they choose. It would also act as an important educational tool, raising awareness and helping to create a ‘carbon conscious’ society. This would influence the mix of energy sources used to generate electricity, and incentives electricity suppliers to reduce the environmental impact of their electricity, encouraging them to offer renewable energy options.
Harnessing ‘consumer power’ in this way to help transform the electricity market towards lower carbon, cleaner options avoids the significant political obstacles associated with both national and international emission reduction schemes. Labelling of electricity could provide an important part of a ‘bottom up’ strategy to cut emissions, creating a market-pull for renewables to complement the market-push from regulators and policy. By educating consumers, labelling will also help to create the broad political consensus needed for international agreement on emission reductions.
Project Aims & Objectives
* The aim of the 4CE project is to assist consumers to make an informed choice in the liberalised market about the source of their electricity product
* The project will develop a label design (and the information system behind it) that will provide consumers with details of the content of their supply mix and its resulting environmental implications.
* Through the display of primary energy sources used to generate a certain product and its corresponding environmental impact, this label will provide a tool which can aid consumers and policy makers in greening Europe’s electricity supply.
* The label will be explored within the context of liberalisation, in order to ensure that a functional and practical label is designed. An assessment of the opportunities and barriers to labelling, and especially for tracking electricity, from the changes to the European liberalised markets will therefore be undertaken.
These will be achieved through the following activities:
Phase 1: A study of the ability of suppliers to access and provide the information needed for an electricity label within the context of liberalisation.
4CE Phase 1: Country Report Hungary is now available (PDF)
Breaking News: EU energy liberalisation package agreed, on the 26th of November, 2002: Suppliers will have to specify in bills and promotional materials the contribution of each energy source. While the text encourages them also to list also information on environmental impacts
Phase 2: A study of what the label will mean for consumers and what consumers want by consulting with them directly through interviews and focus groups.
Phase 3: Develop policies to maximise the impact of the label, as well as investigating the need for associated policies to ensure effectiveness. This final phase also views the label as part of a policy framework towards a lower carbon future, and suggests a policy toolbox of market transformation policies that can be employed to build on the label.
It is recognised that within the present context (i.e. labelling is not yet written into the Electricity Directive, although it has already been proposed) this cannot be the final study but its output is expected to establish a solid basis from which the issue can be taken further. In this way it will meet the multiple objective of addressing the practicalities of label implementation, label design to ensure consumers are well informed and to recommend means of using this tool to achieve EU goals of increased renewable energy production and carbon reductions. The study will provide a sound basis for the design and implementation of a European disclosure scheme providing European electricity consumers with the information they need to make informed choices.
You can also see the publication about the project findings presented on the ECEEE 2003 Summer Study: Turning Down Demand Through Electricity Disclosure: Are Consumers Ready? A Survey of Hungarian Residences and Businesses (PDF)
Six partners representing five countries are responsible for this project: University of Oxford, IT Power (UK), Oeko-Institut (Germany), Energieverwertungsagentur (Austria), Stockholm Environment Institute (Sweden) and the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy of the Central European University (Hungary). However, through this site and other interactive means, we intend to involve as many players as possible in the debate. Workshops with experts, consumer focus groups, customer surveys and industry interviews will all contribute to the discussion.