Phase-sensitive Enabling of Household Engagement in Smart Grids

Today, flexibility in energy end-use, particularly by households, is not sufficiently stimulated in many countries. Hence system-level benefits such as reduced electricity bills, better integration of renewable electricity generation and lowering of grid costs, are not realized.

Therefore, a widespread adoption of active demand1 by households is needed to tilt the cost-benefit balance of the investment in advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) towards a net benefit for society.

Although a variety of interventions aimed at activating households have been piloted in smart grid projects, a consistent and integrated view on how to incentivize end users to change their behavior is still lacking. From an energy policy perspective, it is important to understand key enabling factors that contribute to active demand by households, in order to leverage them by targeted policy interventions. From a research and innovation policy perspective, social innovations and involving end users in the innovation process are important fostering factors to overcome the barriers in bringing smart grid technologies from technological readiness to system wide deployment. This policy brief therefore aims at highlighting key success factors for active household engagement in smart grids. Based on experiences from existing programs and projects, it has become clear that two phases for active end-user engagement need to be distinguished:

  • ACTIVATION PHASE, an initial phase of end-user engagement and a
  • CONTINUATION PHASE, to enable the entrenchment of the newly acquired energy behavior.

For each of the two phase’s, diverse success factors were identified, with the main conclusion that a more differentiated, phase-sensitive view is needed on how to encourage greater user engagement through policy measures.

As the aim of ISGAN is to facilitate global knowledge sharing, this policy brief intends to disseminate these finding on user-engagement to a broader audience of policy makers dealing with smart grid policy.


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