European Research Council funding

In 2015 the Transitions to New Technologies (TNT) Program won prestigious European Research Council (ERC) funding for a project on social influence and the diffusion of low-carbon innovations (SILCI). Given the highly competitive and selective nature of these multi-year, multi-million Euro ERC research grants, this showcases the quality and pioneering contributions to innovation studies and low carbon system transitions of TNT’s researchers.

© Vs1489 | Dreamstime

© Vs1489 | Dreamstime

SILCI aims to evaluate whether social influence can help accelerate the diffusion of low carbon innovations. Social influence can be transmitted through inter-personal communication, social media, spatial proximity, and behavioral norms. The SILCI project will measure the relative strengths of these different types of social influence across a range of potentially disruptive low-carbon innovations. The project will build in particular on past TNT research, including the Scaling Dynamics of Energy Technologies database by compiling spatially-explicit time series data of technology diffusion and early adoption. Charlie Wilson was awarded the four-year ERC Starting Grant, with Arnulf Grubler serving as a senior scientific advisor on the project.

Findings from the project will also be applied in ongoing work by TNT and Energy Program scholars to improve the behavioral realism of Integrated Assessment Models of climate change. Charlie Wilson has already been collaborating with David McCollum on using empirical meta-analysis to generate parameters for the endogenous modeling of social influence effects. To date, this has focused on vehicle choice as part of the European Commission Seventh Framework project ADVANCE.

In parallel, Tieju Ma and Arnulf Grubler have been examining social influence effects in an agent-based model of technology diffusion (see update on the ALPS project). These multiple strands of analysis and modelling will be brought together in TNT’s research portfolio around social influence evidence, analysis, and modelling.

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Last edited: 03 May 2016


Arnulf Grubler

Distinguished Emeritus Research Scholar Transformative Institutional and Social Solutions Research Group - Energy, Climate, and Environment Program

Charlie Wilson

Senior Research Scholar Transformative Institutional and Social Solutions Research Group - Energy, Climate, and Environment Program

Senior Research Scholar Sustainable Service Systems Research Group - Energy, Climate, and Environment Program

News Article

The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded a prestigious Starting Grant to Charlie Wilson, a researcher at IIASA

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
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