Switching to a Smarter Grid: The Impact of Consumer Engagement. Analysis driven by the literature

Kristina Tauchmannova

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

At the moment the electricity industry is going through the most dramatic change in history and the electricity utilities are facing tough times in order to survive. With the growth of renewable energy generation, a more decentralized system energy generation and the growth in global energy demand, the current electricity system is no longer suitable for the needs of the society. The smart grid technology promises remarkable increases in efficiency for the electricity industry, it integrates renewable sources of energy, allows a two-way energy distribution, brigs savings for the consumer and has a positive impact on eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels. It will positively impact a more sustainable future. At the current stage of taking steps towards a smarter grid, the lack of consumer engagement has been pointed out as the biggest barrier for the further development of the smart grid. Consumers are not engaged mainly because in the ‘old grid’ they were only passive ratepayers. However, in the smart grid, there is a role envisioned for the consumer and this is why their engagement is essential in order to develop the smart grid. This involves challenges that are completely new to the industry. This paper aims to find possible ways of overcoming the barrier of consumer engagement with the smart grid enabled products and services through a meta-analysis of literature and theories in fields where we could find answer to this barrier. I will compare findings from the literature and theories on mainly Lead-User Innovation and Participatory Design in order to find out if higher consumer engagement can be brought by this kind of co-creation already in the innovation process and if we can this way bring the rise of the dominant design for smart grid enabled products and services, which has the potential of bringing more consumer engagement on the way to switching to a smarter and much more sustainable grid.

EducationsMSc in Management of Innovation and Business Development, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2013
Number of pages74