Perhaps most intriguing are markets that appear to have avoided the link between energy transition progress and poor confidence. For example, although France and the Netherlands are well advanced on their energy transition journey, consumers there are more optimistic. In France, a combination of market design, government interventions and nuclear power generation has helped create a predictable and stable market structure that has shielded consumers from retail volatility and dramatic price increases.
In the Netherlands, proactive community engagement and broad collaboration across society may be the secret to maintaining consumer confidence. For example, the Amsterdam Smart City project brought together business, government, academia and community organizations to create a holistic program that considered energy efficiency alongside urban planning, eMobility and technology innovation. It has delivered tangible benefits to people’s lives — and could be why Dutch consumers have more confidence in their ability to easily access safe, affordable energy in the future.
Sweden stands out as leading the way with high consumer confidence. Here, new energy projects are developed with deep community engagement and focus on the wider potential benefits, including lower energy costs, new jobs and increased tax revenue for local communities that will fund new cultural centers, sports complexes and local infrastructure.
What lessons can we learn from these examples? In Sweden, France and the Netherlands, consumers have been encouraged and supported to engage in the energy transition at an early stage. The value of the transition, to communities and to consumers, has been highlighted. And, importantly, government and regulators have created a predictable, stable foundation for the energy experience. Compare this with the UK, where consumers have borne the brunt of retail volatility, significant price increases and failing energy suppliers — and where confidence is low.
Meanwhile, in the US, the energy transition is still at an early stage, and consumer confidence is relatively high. As investment and policy grows, a focus on maintaining consumer confidence must be a priority or clean energy ambitions may be at risk.
Consumers are still committed to clean energy
Despite their crisis of confidence in energy, we found that consumers are still inspired and committed to doing their part in building a cleaner future. Forty percent are considering purchasing energy-efficient appliances, and about half are considering an EV. But there’s a gap between intention and action. Consumers say that making such changes is too difficult, too expensive or just confusing.