Evaluation of a research programme to produce evidence for municipalities’ decisions on energy efficiency and sustainability

Erscheinungsdatum: 19 November 2013 | Sprache der Studie: EN

Technopolis Group has evaluated a research programme to produce evidence for municipalities’ decisions on energy efficiency and sustainability. The programme’s target group consisted of both users and academia, with the user category broadly defined as “The Swedish Energy Agency; other public authorities and ministries; other actors in the energy system, e.g. municipalities, companies and households, not only the participants in Uthållig kommun but also the other municipalities; County administrative boards; and County councils.” The data in the evaluation shows that the main target group in the user category consisted of municipalities that were in contact with the research projects. The user target groups had, at the time of the evaluation, made only little use of the project results, mainly because the projects were just finished. Several project leaders state plans to disseminate results as soon as they are ‘quality assured’ through peer-review in scientific journals. Additionally, the broad definition of target groups makes it more difficult to disseminate the results in a way that meets the goals of the programme.
Almost all projects had work processes that did not include on-going contact with practitioners during the course of the projects. The scientific results of the programme are satisfactory. This assessment is primarily based on the numbers of different kinds of publications in relation to the size and scope of the programme. At the time of the evaluation the programme is expected to generate, inter alia, two monographs and eleven articles in renowned (ISI-ranked) scientific journals. Most projects have also fed into higher education activities. However, a couple of projects do not seem to generate the extent of scientific output that can be expected given the resources these projects have had and the degree of collaboration with practitioners researchers in these projects have chosen. The programme has suited its purpose, given its aim and goals. The aim was fulfilled and the goals reached. However, the goals are more characteristic of aims: They are vague and too easy to reach. In addition, it was unclear whether the format of the programme has suited its purpose, given its intention. On the one hand, the aims, goals and interview with the responsible administrative official reflected the intention of a programme that supports academically oriented research, where the researchers’ interaction with practitioners tends to consist mainly of contacts during the empirical work. On the other hand, big parts of the programme document – beyond aim and goals – as well as the other two interviews with officials at the Swedish Energy Agency, gave the impression that the programme would contain more collaboration between researchers and practitioners than has been the case. To the extent the programme can be criticised for not having been carried out as intended, the responsibility does not lay on the leaders of the research projects.