Real-world experiments have become a common method for testing and developing new technologies to decarbonize the energy system. The significance of the site of such experiments is evident yet elusive. A case in point is the Danish island Bornholm, test site for a smart grid experiment involving more than 800 private households. The object of intervention of this experiment is the so-called flexible electricity consumer; a means for countering radical increases in fluctuating, renewable energy that challenges the stability of the electricity system. A flexible consumer adjusts consumption to production rather than the other way. Accordingly, the experiment seeks to knit together the electricity system infrastructure and its users in new ways. The island provides the boundaries for this experiment, all the while it is endowed with multiple politics by its various participants. To the scientists running the experiment, Bornholm is their living laboratory: it provides a partly controllable electricity system upon which to test their reorganized energy system. To local participants, however, the experiment is above all a demonstration of their commitment to the island and its role in a green transition. Finally, during the experiment, the local energy supplier begins to frame the island’s energy system and its users as assets; a test island for future participatory experiments. Eventually, the site of this real-world experiment makes a flexible consumer possible as object of intervention, yet at the same time, it transforms the scientific results produced and the identity of the island.
Bibliographical noteEpub ahead of print. Published online: 17 Jan 2021.
- Real-world experiment
- Renewable energy
- Flexible consumer