Japan’s Ministry of the Environment (MoEJ), which leads the country’s decarbonization strategy, oversees a multitude of initiatives aimed at achieving carbon neutrality. Japan has set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 46% by 2030, a target aligned with the long-term goal of achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.
Because utilities play an important role in these emissions, MoEJ launched a private-public partnership initiative to test the use of behavioral science in helping households reduce energy consumption. The MoEJ Nudge project was launched in 2017 to test the “Nudge” concept, which theorizes that positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions influence the behavior and decision-making of groups or individuals. To test this, MoEJ established a four-year project aimed at changing energy consumption behavior among utility customers. The results would be incorporated toward the reduction targets of carbon dioxide emissions, which are a part of the government environmental impact targets.
Why the Ministry of the Environment, Government of Japan chose Oracle
The Ministry of the Environment selected Oracle Opower because of Oracle’s significant track record using behavioral science and AI. Globally, Oracle has collaborated with 175 utilities worldwide in programs that aim to change behavior and cut carbon emissions.
Oracle Opower has sent over one billion Home Energy Reports to customers in the 10 years that it has administered the program. This has generated 33 terawatt hours of energy efficiency. The Ministry decided to match its own behavioral science approach to the behavioral energy efficiency generated through Oracle Opower Energy Efficiency Cloud.
The four-year project with Japanese utility companies resulted in a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions equal to the annual carbon dioxide emissions of 41,000 households.
Oracle Japan partnered with Jyukankyo Research Institute and five major Japanese utility companies to provide 300,000 selected households with the Oracle Opower Home Energy Reports, providing personalized energy use reduction information and advice.
Distributed through the Oracle Opower Energy Efficiency Cloud Service, the Home Energy Reports helped participating households cut emissions by up to 2.8% compared to households outside of the program. As a result, less energy use translated to a cumulative reduction of 47,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions between 2017 and 2021 across the participating utilities—Hokkaido Gas, Tohoku Electric Power, Hokuriku Electric Power, Kansai Electric Power, and Okinawa Electric Power.
The 47,000-ton cut in carbon dioxide emissions was estimated by the MoEJ to culminate in a 110,000-ton reduction following the Nudge theory that behavioral actions continue for at least one year after the original impulse. Those 110,000 cumulative tons translate to replacing 135,000 refrigerators with more energy-efficient models, according to MoEJ. It also equates to the annual carbon dioxide emissions of 41,000 households.
The Home Energy Reports, with applied behavioral science and AI mapped to Japanese lifestyle and culture, provided customers with billing and energy usage information, monthly comparisons, personalized energy consumption insights, household energy analysis, and energy and bill saving tips. The colorful and appealing reports included infographics for display on refrigerators, which sparked willingness to act on the highly specific and relevant insights. Such actions included taking energy audits to discover savings potential and to adjust behavior accordingly.
Email open rates reached 71% as residential consumers reacted to insights into conserving energy and reducing their power and gas bills. A click-through rate of over 30% resulted in 100,000 households adjusting thermostats and initiating other energy reduction efforts.
Stemming from the customer engagement induced by Oracle Opower Home Energy Reports, 30% of households said they had gained a far better impression of their utility and would proactively follow their energy conserving tips and insights in the future.
The program was so successful that Hokkaido Gas and Okinawa Electric Power decided to continue with Oracle Opower Home Energy Report communications following the completion of the MoEJ commissioned program.
Oracle Japan oversaw the management of the program implementation and configured and managed the platform in partnership with Jyukankyo Research Institute. The institute is a leading program research organization in Japan focused on saving energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions through behavioral change.
About the customer
The Ministry of the Environment of the Government of Japan is working toward the realization of a sustainable society by responding to climate change issues and environmental regeneration. The organization is creating resource recycling policies such as waste management, conservation of biodiversity, and coexistence with nature.