Doctoral thesis

Exploring the behavioural base for the Swiss energy transition : The role of attitudes and heterogeneity in the preferences of electricity consumers


123 p

Thèse de doctorat: Università della Svizzera italiana, 2021

English In the context of the international climate change mitigation efforts, several countries have been scaling up their efforts to decarbonize their economies and energy systems. The restructuring of the electricity systems has brought about new challenges, among which the acceptance of the new infrastructures and technologies, and the need of ensuring an optimal level of security of supply. This thesis contributes to the debate by providing an insight into the preferences of Swiss electricity consumers with respect to the origin and reliability of their electricity supply. The first chapter exploits a discrete choice model with latent variables to investigate household preferences with respect to different primary energy sources used for generating electricity. The second chapter exploits a discrete choice model with latent classes to evaluate the willingness-to-accept of Swiss households for electricity blackouts. The third chapter uses a discrete choice model with random parameters to measure the willingness-to-accept of business consumers located in Canton Ticino for electricity blackouts; the analysis also focusses on the impact of the choice heuristics observed among the respondents on the estimated parameters. The results emerging from the three chapters suggest that attitudinal, behavioural, and cognitive factors play an important role in shaping the preferences of electricity consumers. The use of an appropriate modelling framework to accommodate drivers that are not directly observable as such from the data is thus particularly important. Even if attitudes per se can hardly be targeted by specific policies, a sound understanding of their role and demographic or behavioural determinants may be useful to design policies that elicit consensus by targeting awareness, habits, or behaviour, as well as to define contracts that fit the needs and preferences of residential and business consumers.
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