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.

read more

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

read more

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.

read more

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.

read more