Title: Enabling consumer engagement in the future electricity networks
Citation: Smart Grids: Next generation grids for new energy trends
Publisher: CIGRE
Publication Year: 2013
JRC N°: JRC72976
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC72976
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Today’s electricity systems confront the challenge to respond to growing environmental concerns while assuring sustainable, secure and cost-effective power system operation. Although large scale integration of generation close to load appears as a promising solution to cope with these challenges, much effort is still needed in engaging consumers to take on a bigger role in managing their power consumption. In this sense, the engagement of the electricity consumers may play a key role in sustaining policies development that involves: 1) increase share of renewable energy sources in the electricity use and 2) more efficient use of electric energy. Promoting sustainable electricity consumption would therefore require two-way communication and power flow between the consumers and power suppliers in such a way that an optimal use of renewable energy sources is achieved while minimising the use of fossil fired generation and network infrastructure investment. In this context, the aim of the present paper is to provide an insight on the current trends and developments on consumer engagement and behaviour in smart grid projects in Europe. The paper will present some of the results of an ongoing survey on European Smart Grid projects that JRC is presently carrying out. The survey, along with other data, aims to collect information on ongoing activities at European level on consumer engagement and behaviour in smart grids. The initial analysis points out an increase in the interest in consumer engagement in the European smart grid, in particular in the residential sector. In this respect, the results show that successful demand side integration is based on gaining deeper knowledge of consumer behaviour, engaging and empowering the consumer to become an active energy player. Along with these objectives, uncertainties associated with the consumers behaviour need to be addressed, in particular: 1) lack of trust and 2) use of different motivational factors, such as electricity bill reduction, environmental concerns, better comfort provision, etc. Distribution System Operators (DSOs), challenged by the need to integrate increasing shares of renewable and distributed energy sources while ensuring security of system supply, are inherently interested in enhancing flexibility through energy efficiency and dynamic pricing so as to enable consumers’ responsiveness. A first analysis of the survey shows that DSOs have started developing projects aimed at getting to know consumers’ preferences and behaviour and the impact of their choices on system‘s operations. For that reason, the DSOs have started acting as one of the key enablers for consumer integration in the distribution network operation and planning. The paper will also discuss potential solutions for enabling consumers’ engagement such as advanced network concepts, like microgrid and multi-microgrid. In the context of these concepts, central to the consumers’ engagement is adoption of Advanced Metering Infrastructures (AMI) and decentralised control approach that also allow for growing capacity of distributed (in particular renewable) generation while playing a significant role in the future evolution of the electric distribution networks.
JRC Directorate:Energy, Transport and Climate

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