Citizens and the Future of Energy: A workshop on Engagement, Participation and Empowerment in Smart Energy Systems (EnPE-SES)


Major environmental pressures and emerging innovations are transforming the energy sector in ways that put the consumer at the heart of developments. The decentralisation of generation, e.g., via use of photovoltaic panels and wind turbines, as well as utilisation of local storage based on lithium-ion batteries or even electric vehicles, reshape not only the traditional generation and distribution infrastructure but also the relevant operational and business models of the entire sector. The greater accessibility to distributed and off-grid assets that are targeted to commercial estates and increasingly to households, enable organisations and individual citizens to assume a more involved role in a future energy system. That role may include trading of surplus energy back to a national grid (hence the term ‘prosumer’, as a consumer may be able to produce energy), membership to a local, physical (or even virtual) community of associated individual households etc.

Technology developments include smarter management of local energy assets, grid flexibility for managing fluctuations in supply and demand, advanced modelling based on real-time data, digital twinning of assets with high fidelity models, algorithmic trading of surplus energy and the use of distributed ledger technology to assure transaction data integrity and authenticity. Their potential for transformational impact is high, but there are also concerns about unintended consequences such as increased privacy risks, digital exclusion, exacerbation of energy poverty for communities deprived of digital skills or access to infrastructure etc.

Therefore, in a landscape so dynamic and evolving, citizen engagement and participation is deemed crucial for the success of the related technologies and their operation. As such, a number of challenges arise that range from the necessary access to infrastructure and investment, to enabling policies and the skills required from the individual citizen. Questions are also posed around who may be excluded from a distributed generation and highly decentralised system, what would fuel poverty look like and whether it could be eradicated, whether citizens are ready to become active agents of a transactive energy marketplace etc.

EnPE-SES will seek to examine these questions and explore energy futures through the lenses of socio-technical analyses, and the means to enable greater engagement, participation and ultimately empowerment of citizens through this journey. We solicit contributions across a number of disciplines including policy studies, HCI, data privacy, energy informatics, systems engineering, technology management, business process modelling etc.


The workshop will be organised under the auspices of the Horizon 2020 funded project TwinERGY (‘Intelligent interconnection of prosumers in positive energy communities with twins of things for digital energy markets’, Grant agreement ID: 957736). It aims to bring together a multidisciplinary base or researchers from engineering and computer science, management and marketing, policy studies, social and behavioural sciences and mathematical modelling to debate and explore the future of energy systems from a citizen-driven viewpoint. Having the ability to interact with the wider PETRA delegate base that includes top experts of pervasive technologies, assisted living, HCI, human factors etc. will allow for greater contextualisation of domestic energy innovations and appreciation for the link between the technology and the individual.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to

  • Digitalisation of energy systems and future consumer skills
  • UI/UX of emerging energy systems
  • Useability and accessibility of energy apps
  • Methods and tools for enabling citizens to understand the value of their energy data
  • Democratisation of energy systems modelling, participatory approaches and consumer-oriented Digital Twins
  • Gamification, nudging and establishment of sustainable energy behaviours
  • Policy development in support of energy systems innovation
  • Increasing awareness of data privacy and risks among the energy consumer base
  • Approaches for energy data governance and the role of the citizen
  • Prosumers’ customer journeys
  • Peer-to-peer local energy trading support – business models, technologies, policies

Workshop Organizers

Prof Theo Tryfonas
Department of Civil Engineering – University of Bristol

Prof Tiago Oliveira
Information Management School – Universidade Nova de Lisboa

Prof Dr Johannes Upping

Dr Stylianos Karatzas
Department of Civil Engineering – University of Patras