Publications

PROJECT REPORTS

CATCH interim report

FACTSHEETS

Results of the consumer survey of e-car use in Austria

Use of electric cars in Lower Austria

Use of electric cars in Salzburg

Results of the consumer survey of building insulation in Austria

Building insulation in Austria

JOURNAL ARTICLES

Kulmer V., Seebauer S., Fruhmann C. (2017): Wie können Widersprüche zwischen Marktdurchdringung und Rebound-Vermeidung gelöst werden? Systemanalyse konvergenter und divergenter Einflussfaktoren an den Beispielen E-Auto und Gebäudesanierung.

Abstract. Low carbon transformation policies advocate the market diffusion of energy efficient technologies, but tend to overlook associated rebound effects. For the case of e-cars and building insulation in Austria we address inherent conflicts between technology adoption and usage. System models integrate results of three complementary research methods: fuzzy cognitive mapping of expert knowledge, household survey and macroeconomic analysis. By tracing policy impulses through the web of interlinked drivers, the system models illustrate leverage for targeted interventions. Convergent drivers (e.g. pro-environmental values) stimulate the market uptake of the technology, and simultaneously constrain rebound effects. Divergent drivers (e.g. income) promote adoption, but set the stage for ensuing rebound effects. Preventing indirect rebound is found most critical to achieve energy savings. Instead of stand-alone measures, policy mixes should address multiple impact paths, e.g. by combining fiscal instruments, awareness building and training of key market actors.

 

Athavale Shruti and Knaus Karina (2017): Energy Efficiency Policies and the Rebound Effect: Review of International Instruments and Recommendations for Austria

Abstract. The paper reviews a number of policy instruments related to the improvement of energy efficiency, such as fiscal, awareness-raising and regulatory measures. We conclude that based on the reviewed literature rebound may play an important role in designing policies aimed at increasing energy efficiency, although estimates vary widely between 1 and 60 per cent. Looking at various sectors, namely transport, consumer goods and buildings & heating, we therefore conclude that rebound effects do play a potential role in all energy efficiency polices. However, numerous rebound mitigation and accompanying measures exist that can address at least some of the adverse effects created by direct, indirect and economy-wide rebound. In particular, we find that the interaction between fiscal and other measures such as labels & standards or awareness raising campaigns can provide a useful avenue towards the optimal policy mix.

PUBLISHED ARTICLES / BOOK CHAPTERS

Fruhmann C., Tuerk A., Kulmer V., Seebauer S. (2017): System complexity as key determinant in achieving efficacious policy transposition and implementation: The case of energy efficient technology adoption for heating and mobility in Austrian households. In: The Green Market Transition: Carbon Taxes, Energy Subsidies and Smart Instrument Mixes. Critical Issues in Environmental Taxation Series. Edward Elgar Publishing 2017.

Abstract. Policy implementation and transposition do not take place in a „vacuum“, but are influenced by a variety of surrounding factors, stakeholder agendas and by socioeconomic or institutional boundaries. All factors together are shaping the policy performance. Consequently, understanding a policies surrounding context is crucial for efficacious policy transposition and implementation. This paper analyses how policies unfold their performance within a pre-existing system using the example of low carbon and energy efficient technology adoption for mobility and heating demand in Austrian households. For both areas, findings show a mainly subsidy based policy framework often lacking innovative solutions and being strongly influenced by surrounding contextual factors and stakeholder constellations. Our findings in combination with lessons learned from Europe-wide best practice examples highlight the importance and benefit of smart policy mixes in future policy design. In particular, our analysis reveals that smart policy mixes are more robust and easier adaptable concerning influences of complex system correlations, thus not only in the case of low carbon and energy efficient technology adoption in Austrian households but also for policy design in general.

 

Seebauer, S. (2018): The psychology of rebound effects: Explaining energy efficiency rebound behaviours with electric vehicles and building insulation in Austria. Energy Research & Social Science, 46, 311-320. doi:10.1016/j.erss.2018.08.006.

Abstract. Rebound effects may undermine current energy policy pathways centred on more energy efficient technologies. The present study analyses why household-level rebound occurs after purchasing an electric vehicle or installing building insulation. Direct and indirect rebound behaviour are operationalised as rearrangements of consumption patterns over time, drawing on concepts of mental accounting and compensatory behaviours. Structural equation modelling is applied to cross-sectional survey data on adopters of electric cars (n=575) and building insulation (n=1,455) in Austria. A complementary longitudinal sample of adopters of electric bicycles (n=111) validates the findings. Pro-environmental values and, albeit more weakly, personal norms for environmentally conscious consumption counteract rebound behaviour. Social norms for environmentally conscious consumption increase rebound. Values of frugality and modesty show no discernible impact. These drivers apply similarly to all energy efficiency technologies investigated. In the case of building insulation, low-income and energy-poor households are more liable to rebound; moreover, habitual heating practices increase rebound. Policy design could leverage the drivers studied here to combat rebound, for instance by prioritising consumer segments with a lower risk of rebound, or by supporting rebound-averse mindsets in public communication. Future research should conduct longitudinal studies to strengthen causal inferences about changes in consumption patterns over time.

A working paper version is available as: Seebauer S. (2017): Individual Drivers for Direct and Indirect Rebound Effects: A Survey Study of Electric Vehicles and Building Insulation in Austria. FCN Working Paper No. 17/2017, Institute for Future Energy Consumer Needs and Behavior, RWTH Aachen University, November.

 

Kulmer V., Seebauer S. (2019). How robust are estimates of the rebound effect of energy efficiency improvements? A sensitivity analysis of consumer heterogeneity and elasticities. Energy Policy, 132, 1-14. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2019.05.001.

Abstract. Economy-wide rebound effects may undermine climate policies relying on energy efficiency improvements. However, available rebound estimates diverge widely. We illustrate the crucial role of model assumptions of household heterogeneity and elasticities. A computable general equilibrium model of the Austrian economy incorporates multiple household groups with heterogeneous preferences and analyzes how improving efficiency by 10% affects household fossil fuel consumption. In the base model, economy-wide rebound is 65%; different household groups show direct rebound of 8-12%; thus, economy-wide rebound is mainly advanced by indirect rebound. A sensitivity analysis using Monte Carlo simulation varies elasticities between household groups, namely substitutability between material and energy goods, and between different energy goods. In 160 simulation runs, the economy-wide rebound emerges as rather robust. By contrast, direct rebound varies widely among household groups and attains 30%, where reciprocal feedback between groups builds up. In the base model, a fossil fuel tax rate of 43% neutralizes the economy-wide rebound. When elasticities in 180 simulation runs are varied, this tax rate spans from 15% to 80%. Thus, rebound estimates and derived policy advice, such as specific rates and numbers, should be treated with great caution, unless elasticity parameters are reliable and account for heterogeneous consumer preferences.

As working paper version is available as: Kulmer V., Seebauer S. (2017): How Robust are Estimates of the Rebound Effect of Energy Efficiency Improvements? A Sensitivity Analysis of Consumer Heterogeneity and Elasticities. FCN Working Paper No. 16/2017, Institute for Future Energy Consumer Needs and Behavior, RWTH Aachen University, November.