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JRC Smart Electricity Systems

Social dimension

Consumer engagement in Smart Grid Project in Europe

For Smart Grids to deliver their envisaged benefits, the realisation of physical infrastructures must be complemented by new business models and practices, new regulations, as well as changes to consumer behaviour and social acceptance. Many different stakeholders are involved in this process and different forms of cooperation are already arising.

Smart grid projects are the first step towards the creation of the future electricity system. It is important at this early stage of development to understand and involve the consumers in order for them to successfully assume their new role as active participants in the electric power system.

After the publication of the JRC Reference Report "Smart Grids projects in Europe: lessons learned and current development", an additional survey focused on consumer engagement issues was performed on a selected list (50) of relevant projects. Some of the preliminary findings and trends are summarised below (more information will be available at a later stage):

- The trend in smart grid project with a focus on consumer engagement is positive, thus confirming that energy utilities are recognising the importance of early inclusion of consumer engagement in smart grid projects 

Number of projects with declared focus on consumer engagement

- Public funding is of central importance to support smart grid projects with a focus on consumer engagement: most of the projects having a focus on consumer engagement have been co-funded.

- The main focus  is on residential sector and DSO as leading organisation.

- Main motivational factors promoted in the smart grid projects with focus on consumer engagement are: environmental concerns, reduction of/control over electricity bills and better comfort.

JRC activities on the mapping of consumer engagement strategies and activities in smart grids project in Europe are ongoing through the online survey.

The results and analysis will be reported and made publicly available.