- The research agenda on social acceptance of distributed generation in smart grids: renewable as common pool resources
- Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews
- Volume | Issue number
- 16 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
The rapid developing literature on ‘smart grids’ suggests that these will facilitate ‘distributed generation’ (DG) preferably from renewable sources. However, the current development of smart (micro)grids with substantial amount of DG ("DisGenMiGrids") suffers from a focus on mere ‘technology’. Ongoing problems with deployment of renewable energy have shown that implementation is largely determined by broad social acceptance issues. This smart grid development is very important for further renewables deployment, but again there is a tendency to continue the neglect of social determinants.
Most technical studies apply implicit and largely unfounded assumptions about the participation in and contribution of actors to DisGenMiGrid systems. This lack of understanding will have severe consequences: smart grids will not further renewables deployment when there are hardly actors that are willing to become part of them. This review is a first attempt to address the social construction of smart electricity grids. As institutional factors have proved to be the main determinants of acceptance, these will also be crucial for further renewables deployment in micro-grid communities. Elaboration of the institutional character of social acceptance and renewables’ innovation calls for an institutional theory approach involving Common Pool Resources management, because these socio-technical systems aim to optimise the exploitation of natural resources. Citizens/consumers and other end-users increasingly have the option to become more self-sufficient by becoming co-producers of electricity.
They may optimise the contribution of DG when they cooperate and insert their renewable energy in a cooperative microgrid with mutual delivery. Moreover, the option to include ‘distributed storage’ capacity (electric vehicles) in these microgrids, enables an increasing share of renewables deployment. However, all these options should be institutionally opened. This requires much self-governance and flexible overall regulation that allows microgrids.
The research agenda should focus on how such new systems become institutionally embedded, and how they are socially constructed.
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