Smart grid - a future electricity grid for all?

A women controlling her smart home with an ipad.
Gerd Altman

In smart grid visions, users are often portrayed as IT-savvy, rational and economically minded individuals that actively take part in the transformation of the electricity system by engaging with energy-related products and services.

In this project, we study household customers that cannot be described by these characteristics and who risk being neglected in the realization of smart grids and may not gain from the services and energy-saving opportunities a smart grid offers.

The project starts out with the assumption that a well-functioning electricity grid needs many users that contribute to its functionality, and that a robust electricity grid builds on ecological, economic and social sustainability, which requires consideration of issues that concern income differences, integration and social vulnerability. The project does not only aim to identify those that are at risk of being neglected or excluded but also to study how their needs, circumstances and motives can be taken into consideration to shape a smart grid in such a way that it inhibits alienation.

The project aims to develop strategies helping such groups to more effectively participate in the services smart grids provide. The project builds on in-depth interviews with actors working with smart grids, organizations representing households who risk becoming neglected/excluded from smart grids, as well as interviews with such households.

The project is carried out in cooperation between the Department of Thematic Studies, Technology and Social Change, Linköping University and IT-company Umecon AB.
The project is funded by the Swedish Energy Agency.
Project duration: October 2017 – March 2021