Citizens on the driving seat of solar energy research

Citizens on the driving seat of solar energy research

Author: Luisa Fernanda Barbosa Gomez – University Pompeu Fabra – Studies Centre on Science, Communication and Society, Spain


  • Martin Brocklehurst – KempleyGREEN Consultants – European Citizen Science Association, United Kingdom
  • Ana Belén Cristóbal – Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain
  • Gema Revuelta – University Pompeu Fabra – Studies Centre on Science, Communication and Society, Spain
  • Regina Schwald – European Science Communication Institute, Germany

The world is increasingly demanding a shift towards a sustainable energy system that uses renewable sources. Despite the societal relevance of energy research, there is a clear gap of participatory science projects in the field. For instance, when searching for citizen science projects on SciStarter with the keyword “energy”, only two relevant results show up. One of them is an Australian app that allows citizens to participate in energy surveys, learn about energy challenges and read about the latest breakthroughs. The other one uses gamification to let young people design renewable energy systems for cities across the U.S. based on real scientific data. However, none of them yet connect to an ongoing research project.

After identifying such a gap, GRECO intends to transform the relationship between citizens and research that tackles the societal challenge of secure, clean and efficient energy. To achieve such a goal, GRECO researchers and science communicators are based on open science, responsible research and citizen science. For instance, GRECO coordinates a participatory and innovative citizen science process that can be described in four steps. First, researchers propose how citizens can actively collaborate in their research. Second, an online hackathon to design a citizen science project is made, with 62 participants from 15 countries around the world. Third, the proposals received are evaluated and one is chosen. Fourth and last, the co-created citizen science initiative is developed and launched to be adopted by the solar energy research community. “Generation Solar” has been fully launched in web and mobile versions since 2020 and there are now more than 130 installations registered.

With this process, GRECO seeks to include society in the decision-making, design and exploitation process of solar energy research and innovation, and put citizens in the driver’s seat to recognize the relevance of photovoltaic energy on a more sustainable world.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Insight talk
Theme: Transformation