What’s the meaning of smart? A study of smart grids from the multiple perspectives of stakeholders

The aim of this study is to elicit the multiple meanings of ‘smart’ from a diverse range of stakeholder understandings of the term ‘smart grid’. Seeking a smarter way for us to make and use electricity forms the background to this study because it could help address the energy trilemma by integrating low carbon energy resources into the power supply and affordably balancing their variability with more control over electricity demand. With the nation-wide rollout of smart meters scheduled to start in 2015, our approach to the energy trilemma has the potential to dramatically change with an unprecedented range of options that could open up participation in the electricity system.

By deliberating an array of options for possible smart grid outcomes, we aim to understand how the perspectives of a diverse range of key stakeholders compare and contrast around the meaning of smart with particular attention paid to the emerging opportunities for energy end users and producers. This study aims to elicit smart criteria from electricity stakeholders by using a structured interview methodology called Multicriteria Mapping. It will seek to show if a common understanding of core smart values can be identified from multiple perspectives of smart grids. From here, we will then examine whether it is possible to build a shared conceptual framework to support smart grid development coherently with the needs of electricity end users and address the challenges of the energy trilemma.

In March 2015 this report was published describing the findings of the project.

People involved: Nigel Hargreaves, Jason Chilvers & Tom Hargreaves

Funder: EPSRC

Time frame: 2014-2015