November 18, 2017

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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September 12, 2017

ISGAN Public Workshop in Genk

Presentations and Summary of ISGAN public workshop on "Building the flexible power systems"​ held in Genk, Belgium

The FPS Economy, SME, Self-Employed and Energy – DG Energy & EnergyVille, would like to invite you to the public workshop of the International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN):

Building the flexible power systems.
From analog to digital, from lorry to EV, from customers to prosumers

12 September 2017, 09:30-18:00

All over the globe, governments have set ambitious targets for the deployment of renewable energy sources. Unlocking the full flexibility potential throughout the power system is essential to enable these objectives. This ISGAN public workshop gathers world-class speakers from international organizations, public authorities, utilities and research institutes to exchange views on current and  future energy policies, to showcase best practices and to bring together experts in various technologies to come to a power system vision.

At Thor Central
Thor Park 8000
3600 Genk


Session 1 – High-level introduction
10h00 – 10h15 Jean-Marc Delporte, Chairman FPS Economy, SME, Self-Employed and Energy
10h15 – 10h30 Mark Van Stiphout, Deputy Head of Unit for New energy technologies, innovation and clean coal, European Commission
10h30 – 10h45 Ronnie Belmans, CEO EnergyVille & CEO GSGF
Research into sustainable energy and smart energy systems (PDF, 767.27 KB)
10h45 – 11h00 Karin Widegren, Chair ISGAN
ISGAN in a nutshell (PDF, 1 MB)
11h00-11h30 Coffee break
Session 2 – Overview of International Activities on Flexibility
11h30 – 13h00 Moderator: Nancy Mahieu, Director General for Energy
Rui Luo, CEM secretariatSusanne Ackeby, ISGAN
Overview of International Activities on Flexibility
ISGAN, Annex 6 Power T&D Systems (PDF, 474.79 KB)
Edwin Haesen, EcofysPieter Vingerhoets, GSGF
Flexibility around the world (PDF, 847.22 KB)
13h00 – 14h00 Lunch
Session 3 – Smart grids contributing to a flexible power system
14h00 – 15h30 Moderator: Roberto Zangrandi, EDSO for Smart Grids
Bob Hebb, Elia
Challenges and opportunities decentralised flex (PDF, 1.27 MB)
Flexibility in Indian Power System (PDF, 370.48 KB)
Steven Hauser, GridWise Alliance
Donghan Feng, State Energy Smart Grid R&D Center of ChinaJohn Ward, CSIRO
Building the flexible power systems (PDF, 1007.1 KB)
15h30 – 16h00 Coffee break
Session 4 – Towards a smart & flexible power system
16h00 – 17h30 Moderated: Michele de Nigris, IEA End-Use Working Party Vice-Chair Electricity
Russ Conklin, ISGANAdrej Jentsch, DHC
District Heating and Cooling as a key element of a smart power grid (PDF, 582.13 KB)
Roland Bründlinger, PVPS
Towards a smart & flexible power system (PDF, 528.96 KB)
Bert Gysen, ECES
Energy Conservation through Energy Storage  (ECES TCP) (PDF, 638.9 KB)
Filip Johnsson, IETSSession 1 – High-level introduction
Increasing the value of wind and solar
Towards smart and flexible power systems (PDF, 528.96 KB)
Session 5 – Conclusions
17h30 – 17h45 Wim Dries, Mayor of the City of Genk
17h45 – 19h00 Networking Reception

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May 16, 2017

Why We Do Not Know Much about the Social Dimension of Smart Grids Transition?

Dealing with smart grids transitions, three years of activity of Annex 7 make it evident that policy makers are having many important questions about the dynamics of institutional change which need new answers.

However, rather than being able to provide ready-made answers about the institutional and social dimensions of smart grids, much more can be said about what-we-don’t-know. We identified two main reasons why we do not know enough about smart grid transition.

  1. The structural challenge is that energy research is mainly focusing on technologies for the physical grid with little knowledge on institutional change and the social dimension of energy transition.
    In an article in Nature, B.K. Sovacool (Vol 511, 2014) examined the scope of more than 4400 articles in leading energy technology and energy policy journals over 15 years. He identified four trends which he evaluates as worrisome if not tackled by public and private organizations and the scientific community:
    a. An underevaluation of influence of social dimensions on energy use,
    b. A bias towards science, engineering and economics over other social sciences and humanities,
    c. A lack of interdisciplinary collaboration and
    d. The underrepresentation of female authors or those of minority groups
    This corresponds to the challenges identified in developing a strategic research agenda for Smart Grids Transitions of Annex 7. The European Commission in its Horizon 2020 research and innovation program tries to address this issue by encouraging SSH research to be taken up in energy research projects. An interim evaluation2 shows the low level of SSH research with the main part going to economic research. Other disciplines are hardly visible and there is a significant geographical divide between countries in taking up the possibility to integrate SSH research.
    There is the need to insert the social and environmental dimensions in the projects of smart grid deployment as well as in the decision making processes needed to select the most appropriate solutions. It is not enough that projects be perfect from the technical and economics point of view, they should be based on a sound social analysis and include specific actions to take into consideration the concerns, needs, and expectations of citizens and consumers.
  2. Although the political will to further increase the public energy-R&D investment in the CEM countries substantially exists, statistical evidence shows a stagnation of energy related social-science-humanities R&D investment at a very low level.
    R&D statistics (OECD/IEA, EU – Horizon 2020) indicate that increases in public R&D spending over the last years did not lead to a more balanced resource-attribution for all research disciplines. Particularly, research resources for social sciences and humanities (SSH) have not yet received the attention it would require to learn more about embedding technological development in the economic and societal environment (e.g. on energy use, or on how future markets will look like).3
    Although the obstacles of data accuracy exacerbate the analysis, still two statements can be made:
    a. The share of R&D from SSH in the area of energy4 in OECD countries has been fluctuating significantly over the last years. When adding up all reported country figures between 0.1% and 9% during the period of 1974 and 20155.
    b. If at all, SSH-research capacities and funding in absolute terms is growing with much less speed than in engineering and natural sciences.
    Given the high uncertainties, how global energy transition should take place and the lack of orientation where technological development should lead to, SSH research will be needed even more urgently than in times of relative stability of the energy system.
    The intention of Mission Innovation, to double public clean-energy R&D investment over five years, is an encouraging signal for R&D actors and will likely lead to structural changes in the research and innovation-eco-system. However it remains to be seen, if this could also lead to a substantial rise in the knowledge about the social dimension of smart grids, without a political will to provide significant resources for SSH research as well as the appropriate R&D instruments.
    The following conclusion and recommendations can be drawn from this analysis:
  • Significantly more inter- and transdisciplinary research activities in social sciences and humanities are needed.
  • More attention has to be laid on generating know-how on social dimensions of technological and institutional transformation of energy systems and markets.
  • Financial resources for SSH research need to be raised at least as much as for technological development and the respective R&D capacities and infrastructures need to be built up sustainably. Collaboration and strategic research agendas should be coordinated amongst CEM-countries.
  • There is an urgent need for more accurate statistical data on SSH in energy research.

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May 1, 2017

Smart Grid Policy Messages for the Clean Energy Ministerial

The document was disseminated at the 8th Clean Energy Ministerial that took place in Beijing, China. It was developed by ISGAN Annex 4: Synthesis Insights for Decision Makers.

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May 1, 2015

The Role of Smart Grids in Integrating Renewable Energy

This discussion paper explores the intersection of smart grid technology, policy, and regulation from a non-technical point of view, focusing on some specific questions relevant for decision makers.

Questions relevant for decision makers:

  • What are the challenges of integrating variable RE into power grids?
  • What types of smart grid solutions are emerging to integrate variable RE?
  • What are good examples from around the world of smart grids aiding in the integration of variable RE?
  • What types of policy and regulatory approaches are emerging to support smart grid solutions in relation to RE?
  • Based on emerging case studies from around the world, this discussion paper concludes that smart grids offer solutions to various challenges associated with variable RE, including providing additional flexibility, unlocking demand side participation, and deferring more costly grid upgrades.

This report is an update of a 2012 ISGAN Annex 4 report entitled “Smart Grid Contributions to Variable Renewable Resource Integration.”

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April 15, 2013

The Role of Smart Grid Technologies as Enablers of Clean Energy Policies in Islands of Developing and Developed Countries

Addressed at high-level policymakers, this paper summarizes key messages from recent publications on sustainable energy systems in islands and remote territories.

The diversity of islands of developing and developed nations offers a unique opportunity to demonstrate how deploying large amounts of intermittent renewable energy sources (RES) within smart grid architectures tailored to local energy contexts can be a cost-effective complement, and even an alternative, to current fossil-fuel solutions.

This paper, authored by Annex 4: Synthesis Insights for Decision Makers, covers the following topics:

  • The energy supply challenges faced by islands
  • Ways in which renewable energy technologies can improve sustainable electricity supply
  • Ways in which smart grid technologies can help enable the integration of large amounts of intermittent RES
  • Lessons learned from demonstration projects in islands
  • The importance of island systems in the global context of clean energy systems in developing and developed countries.

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April 25, 2012

Managing Consumer Benefits and Costs

In some jurisdictions, the roll out of smart grid technologies has achieved less consumer engagement than would be desirable, and in particular some projects have failed to clearly communicate the benefits and costs of smart grid technologies, resulting in mixed reactions from consumers.

This is a key risk area that must be addressed for successful implementation. In this context, it is worth briefly reviewing conventional methods of cost-benefit analysis and mechanisms for cost recovery with a greater focus on the consumer side of the equation, as the underlying values and processes will inform new cost allocation methods for smart grid investments.

ISGAN brings the experience and perspective of the global Smart Grids community together in this paper in order to increase understanding of the costs and benefits of smart grids from a consumer perspective, so that they may be communicated more widely and more effectively.

This paper, authored by Annex 4: Synthesis Insights for Decision Makers, attempts to address these issues across a range of likely possible smart grid configurations and market structures, while acknowledging that many other technology configurations are possible. In light of the continuing evolution of the smart grid, cost allocation will be an ongoing subject of ISGAN research and analysis, and this white paper aims to provide a framework for this ongoing analysis.

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April 25, 2012

Smart Grid Contribution to Variable Renewable Energy

Globally, modernization of electrical grids is taking place alongside rapid deployment of these variable renewable resources (VRRs), although these two trends are not always coordinated.

The need for new balancing resources and for a “seamless grid” capable of integrating both large-scale and small distributed energy resources (DER) are among the driving forces of smart grid development. Smarter grids are an important enabling tool for achieving higher penetrations of VRR on transmission and distribution networks. Depending upon the relative share and geographic distribution of large-scale and DER resources, various technologies, regulations, and policies are required to support high levels of VRR generation. In this context, policy makers will benefit from an understanding of how smart grid technologies contribute to VRR integration, and all stakeholders will benefit from increased alignment between smart grid development roadmaps and national and regional visions for renewable energy development.

The objective of this report, authored by Annex 4: Synthesis Insights for Decision Makers, is to give insights for decision makers on the various contributions of smart grid systems in achieving VRR integration. A variety oftools and solutions exist for achieving high penetrations of VRR generation, and the smart grid solutions outlined in this report are considered alongside a range of integration best practices.

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April 25, 2012

Smart Grid Cyber Security

Maximizing electric sector innovation while minimizing cyber security risk is a key goal of smart grid policy development.

Significant policy gaps exist in the field of grid cyber security, and ISGAN is well-positioned to convene stakeholders and foster discussion to advance best practices that support innovation while protecting critical infrastructure and consumer data privacy. This report, authored by Annex 4: Synthesis Insights for Decision Makers, identifies key issues in cyber security policy design, and suggests potential collaborations for the ISGAN membership.

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