Organizing Consumers for a Decarbonized Electricity System: Calculative Agencies and User Scripts in a Danish Demonstration Project

Trine Pallesen, Rasmus Ploug Jenle

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

This paper studies a Danish smart grid experiment, EcoGrid EU, designed to sustain the increase of wind power in the electricity system. EcoGrid EU is designed as a real-time market, through which engineers seek to realize price responsive electricity consumers through the introduction of smart meters, variable short-term price signals and training users. Based on observations and interviews with scientist, consumers and technicians, this paper analyses the attempt to produce a new kind of electricity consumer. Drawing on social studies of markets, we argue that the project entails constructing a new form of calculative agency. We illustrate the extensive work put into the creation of a new, reconfigured electricity consumer, as well as the challenges associated with the construction of consumers willing and able to act in accordance with the EcoGrid script. On one hand, this study adds to the growing critique raised by practice scholars, most prominently, regarding technically trained system designers’ ‘reductionist’ approach to users. On the other hand, the paper argues that the social sciences must move beyond a mere identification of complexity and ‘messiness’ to provide constructive contributions to the ongoing work of designing and producing new well-functioning sociotechnical systems, including new types of 'sustainable’ users.
This paper studies a Danish smart grid experiment, EcoGrid EU, designed to sustain the increase of wind power in the electricity system. EcoGrid EU is designed as a real-time market, through which engineers seek to realize price responsive electricity consumers through the introduction of smart meters, variable short-term price signals and training users. Based on observations and interviews with scientist, consumers and technicians, this paper analyses the attempt to produce a new kind of electricity consumer. Drawing on social studies of markets, we argue that the project entails constructing a new form of calculative agency. We illustrate the extensive work put into the creation of a new, reconfigured electricity consumer, as well as the challenges associated with the construction of consumers willing and able to act in accordance with the EcoGrid script. On one hand, this study adds to the growing critique raised by practice scholars, most prominently, regarding technically trained system designers’ ‘reductionist’ approach to users. On the other hand, the paper argues that the social sciences must move beyond a mere identification of complexity and ‘messiness’ to provide constructive contributions to the ongoing work of designing and producing new well-functioning sociotechnical systems, including new types of 'sustainable’ users.
LanguageEnglish
JournalEnergy Research & Social Science
Volume38
Pages102-109
Number of pages8
ISSN2214-6296
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Keywords

  • Calculative agency
  • Smart grid
  • Demand response
  • Wind power
  • Electricity consumers

Cite this

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abstract = "This paper studies a Danish smart grid experiment, EcoGrid EU, designed to sustain the increase of wind power in the electricity system. EcoGrid EU is designed as a real-time market, through which engineers seek to realize price responsive electricity consumers through the introduction of smart meters, variable short-term price signals and training users. Based on observations and interviews with scientist, consumers and technicians, this paper analyses the attempt to produce a new kind of electricity consumer. Drawing on social studies of markets, we argue that the project entails constructing a new form of calculative agency. We illustrate the extensive work put into the creation of a new, reconfigured electricity consumer, as well as the challenges associated with the construction of consumers willing and able to act in accordance with the EcoGrid script. On one hand, this study adds to the growing critique raised by practice scholars, most prominently, regarding technically trained system designers’ ‘reductionist’ approach to users. On the other hand, the paper argues that the social sciences must move beyond a mere identification of complexity and ‘messiness’ to provide constructive contributions to the ongoing work of designing and producing new well-functioning sociotechnical systems, including new types of 'sustainable’ users.",
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Organizing Consumers for a Decarbonized Electricity System : Calculative Agencies and User Scripts in a Danish Demonstration Project. / Pallesen, Trine; Jenle, Rasmus Ploug.

In: Energy Research & Social Science, Vol. 38, 04.2018, p. 102-109.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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