Years Active: 2009-2014

Summary

The aim of the project was to advance understanding of smart grid deployment and utilisation through a programme of novel empirical research; developing and evaluating a number of socio-technical scenarios.

Further Information

Smart Grids (SGs) offer clear potential to contribute to UK policy goals of a transition to a low-carbon economy, energy security and affordability by transforming the ways we produce, deliver and consume energy, and potentially our conception of these services. As yet, there is little in-depth research into what factors might influence this potential, how such a grid can develop from today to 2050 and who might be the winners and losers in this process.

Given the strength of scenarios for organising economic, technological, competitive, political, and societal information and translating it into a framework for decision-making, they are well suited for analysing and informing SG development. Existing scenarios highlight social, economic, policy and technological drivers of change within energy and related sectors; however little work to date has examined the roles and priorities of different actors, spatial variation or behavioural issues.

The aim of the project was to advance understanding of smart grid deployment and utilisation through a programme of novel empirical research; developing and evaluating a number of socio-technical scenarios. It gave particular consideration to key transition points – rather than the mere end points – in alternative possible scenarios, and spatial differences in the deployment of SGs and related technologies, from the imminent 2020 target to 2050. The interaction of different actors was built into the scenario development process to incorporate pace and scalability of technology deployment, cost and finance, organisational and business models involved, regulatory style, the role of users, and international drivers and linkages.

The project brings new knowledge for extending scenarios of future UK energy system transitions, providing a more complete and accurate understanding of the implications for people and society of the changes envisaged in current UKERC and other scenarios. Novel empirical insights into different stakeholder priorities and public acceptability of SG deployment will be established.

For further information please visit the project website.

Key Outputs

Balta-Ozkan, N., Watson, T., Connor, P., Axon, C., Whitmarsh, L., Davidson, R., Spence, A., Baker, P., Xenias, D., Cipcigan, L. and Taylor, G. (2014). Scenarios for the Development of Smart Grids in the UK - Synthesis Report. UKERC Report UKERC/RR/ES/2014/002. UKERC: London.

Xenias, D., Axon, C., Balta-Ozkan, N., Cipcigan, L., Connor, P.M., Davidson, R., Spence, A., Taylor, G. and Whitmarsh, L. (2014). Scenarios for the Development of Smart Grids in the UK: Literature Review - Working Paper. UKERC Report UKERC/WP/ES/2014/001. UKERC.