Exploring Community-Oriented Approaches in Demand Side Management Projects in Europe
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This paper seeks to investigate if the theoretical and political trends towards a more collective dimension of energy use are reflected in the design and development of demand side management (DSM) pilot projects in Europe. Specifically, the paper analyses DSM projects in the database of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission to capture signs of a new attention towards the wider context in which consumers live and towards the social dimension associated with energy consumption. To this end, the paper investigates the projects’ scope (in terms of project’s partners, end-use sectors and targeted services) as well as the consumer engagement strategies that projects use. These elements reflect the projects’ consideration for the socio-economic dimension of the community where the pilots take place and their inclination to build on community dynamics. The analysis shows that DSM projects in the EU are increasingly being designed and developed with a collegial approach to energy consumption in mind, although an integrated approach is still missing. In addition, research is still needed to link the use of this innovative approach to project results. A closer look at the developments and results of these projects can help to identify what works and what doesn’t in real life experiences, thus supporting effective policy making at the EU and national level.