Accepted paper:

Smart solutions, private households and control; a case study of experimental projects


Sophie Nyborg (Technical University of Denmark)
Meiken Hansen (Technical University of Denmark)

Paper short abstract:

The concept of 'control' of energy consumption is an important phenomenon on the smart grid arena, yet it remains understudied. Through an ANT approach this paper traces interactions relating to control in three smart grid cases, thus enhancing our knowledge on the current energy system transition

Paper long abstract:

Over the last decade, energy research has turned its focus on smart grid's ability of increasing the flexibility in the energy system, allowing a growing amount of fluctuating renewables in the energy mix. A main part of achieving flexibility is through various control mechanisms of energy consuming devices on the consumer side.

Previous research on how smart grid technologies are domesticated in households has revealed that the design of remote control promotes preferences for unengaged consumers that do not actively take an interest in controlling their electricity consumption (Hansen & Hauge, 2017). Others have pointed out that smart grid devices may concentrate control in one householder's hands (Hargreaves & Wilson, 2017) and furthermore change power relations in families (Nyborg, 2015). However, there is clearly a lack of studies that try to understand how the concept of control is discussed and developed across a number of smart grid demonstration projects. There is a need to understand the different control concepts that are being negotiated among leading actors on the smart grid arena and how the households are responding to them.

This paper seeks to address this gap by inquiring into the types of control affecting private households and by tracing the interactions in three influential Danish cases of smart grid experimental projects: EFlex (2011-2012); Insero Live Lab (2013 -2015); and EnergyLab Nordhavn (2018 - 2019), thus embracing an actor-network theory perspective. This knowledge will increase our understanding of current challenges related to the dissemination of smart grid technologies in Denmark.

panel A11
Encountering energy in systems and everyday spaces