Smart Grid Transitions


Working Group 7 investigates institutional and social change associated with Smart Grid deployment. Using the transition management framework, WG7 sparks international, coordinated trans-disciplinary research activity. WG7’s social science results help to complement technology-oriented Smart Grid activities. WG7 also collects and analyzes aspects of innovation studies, political sciences, institutional economics, sociology, and energy-related laws and regulations and works to make these aspects palpable for policymakers and other stakeholders. Policymakers can turn to WG7 to gain insights into the direction, efficacy, and efficiency of the energy system transition. In addition to policymakers, WG7 contributes its knowledge of non-technical aspects and the framework conditions conducive to Smart Grid deployment to other ISGAN Working Groups. Working Groups that may focus on more technical aspects of Smart Grids can turn to WG7 to see how their results address societal needs, political governance, policies, regulations, and human behavior considering the diversity of institutional structures and governance traditions of ISGAN countries.


Working Group 7 is dedicated to three key tasks. Task 1 focuses on transition processes and pathways, with a specific emphasis on regulatory experimentation, which has been successfully explored in previous WG7 activities including regulatory sandboxes. Our goal now is to delve deeper into this topic and further its development. Additionally, we are investigating policy instruments and effective governance processes that can pave the way for decentralized energy systems in the future.

Task 2 revolves around institutional organizational models and processes for the smart grid deployment. We scrutinize alternatives to the commonly used, though not always suitable, technology readiness level system. This task also seeks to establish a unified terminology in the smart grid transition field, leading to the launch of the Smart Transitions Wiki.

In Task 3, titled ‘Structures of Institutional Change,’ we examine grid tariff structures and regulatory incentive mechanisms for Distribution System Operators (DSOs). This task maps the framework underlying the transition processes for smart grids and presents results as comparative analyses.

The structure for WG7 is outlined as follows:

Task 1: Transition Processes and Pathways

  • Regulatory experimenting
  • Policy instruments and governance processes

Task 2: Future Models and Translation Function

  • Institutional organizational models and processes
  • The technology readiness dilemma in the development of decentralized energy systems
  • Energy as a service of general interest

Task 3: Structures of Institutional Change

  • Tariff structures
  • Incentive mechanisms through regulation

Published documents from Working Group 7 are found here:

Working Group Manager


Branislav Iglar

AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH

Klaus Kubeczko

AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH

[Lead] Austria Italy
BelgiumThe Netherlands
FranceUnited Kingdom
GermanyUnited States

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