Gathering 7 project partners from 7 different EU Member States, the FP7 project “Smart Consumer – Smart Customer – Smart Citizen” (S3C) (Nov. 2012 – Oct. 2015) addresses these shortcomings by giving centre stage to the energy end users in households and small commercial/industrial entities. From this perspective, smart grid technologies are seen as opportunities for end users to modify and adapt their energy-related behaviour.
Beyond acting as a passive consumer of energy supplied by active providers, end users can take on different positions with respective responsibilities and opportunities:
- As a smart consumer, an end user can be challenged and enticed to change his lifestyle routines (e.g. heating, showering, using appliances, etc.) in order to make energy savings.
- As a smart customer, an end user can be challenged and enticed to enforce his market position with respect to the energy providers, offering load flexibility, or even becoming a commercial partner as ‘coproducer’ of energy or provider of energy services (e.g. generation, storage facilities, controllable loads).
- As a smart citizen, an end user can be challenged and enticed to become part of ‘smart energy communities’ – i.e. a group of smart consumers or customers who interact continuously and (mostly) automatically to optimize the ‘smartness’ of the entire energy system in a city or region. As smart citizens, end users have to bother with issues such as power quality, environment preservation and data privacy concerns with respect to energy consumption.
In order for end users to take on these three positions more effectively, existing energy market roles and regulatory provisions can be in need of reform. S3C will provide a better understanding of the relationship between the design, implementation and use of particular technology and user interaction schemes and the promotion of ‘smart’ energy end user behaviour. Therefore, the project consortium has chosen to combine a theoretical and experimental learning approach in this project. The theoretical approach investigates market functioning and end user behaviour as well as existing project results. The project consortium also conducts pilot tests and experiments within a family of existing projects to maximise learning and minimise risks of failure in practice. This way, S3C will go beyond the ‘state of the art’ of knowledge on user involvement in active demand response programs by using this existing “Family of Projects” (FoP) to improve their programs and introduce new means and methods for the user participation in active demand side management and in energy efficiency of the overall electricity system. It is important to note that the involved members of the FoP are not beneficiaries of the EC funds but will contribute their own resources in the framework of existing or yet to start demonstration and deployment projects.
In sum, S3C:
- analyses and assesses critical success factors for end user involvement in active demand by measuring the performance of technical and non-technical interaction schemes as well as customer awareness initiatives deployed in smart grid pilot projects;
- draws up a practical set of guidelines and tools for those involved in setting up active demand projects or programs (DSOs, policy makers, research institutes, regulators etc.) for ensuring a better engagement of end users in active demand; and
- actively disseminates these guidelines and tools on a dedicated website in order to improve the knowledge on implementation, monitoring and evaluation of active demand programs.
In a first step, S3C analyses which drivers (of social, technical, market and regulatory nature) are most suitable to enable end users to take an active position in load management and energy efficiency. In WP1 a theoretical framework based on existing research and practice experience is developed. In WP2, innovative smart grid pilot projects, among those already finished and those still ongoing, were selected. They were assessed against a number of high-level criteria, i.e. the way end users have been involved in the design, implementation, use and evaluation of the technology and user-interaction schemes investigated in those projects.
In a second step (WP 3 and WP 4 – still ongoing), the ‘lessons learnt’ from the assessment in WP2 will lead to the identification of best practices, which most efficiently impact the behaviour of users and give guidance to the design of novel technology and end user-interaction schemes. In this stage, S3C will also look at end user involvement schemes that have been successfully rolled out in the field of telecommunications or other industries (e. g. social marketing, flat rates). This approach will allow S3C to answer the project’s main research question: “Which technology and end-user interaction schemes of the emerging smart energy networks in Europe are crucial for empowering energy end users (households and small enterprises) to take up new roles contributing to active demand management and the overall efficiency of the energy system?” In this second step a set of guidelines and tools will be developed to help practitioners and researchers improve their approaches to involve and convince the customer. The tools will be available from a specific interactive website and shall be tested in WP5. The interaction of WP2 and WP3 leads to the selection of a number of “accompanying” projects, constituting the ‘Family of Projects’ (FoP). These projects are ready to be used for the investigation and/or to become validation test-beds of the best practices identified. The FoP is already populated with a number of on-going pilots, either with an “active” or “passive” option. “Active” means that a project will adapt (in the framework of their own work program and within their budget and time constraints) the implementation of their project and validate some of the best practices and tools provided by S3C (see WP5). In the “passive” option a project will make available its results and data for in-depth analysis. In most cases at least one consortium partner is linked into those projects.
In a third step guidelines and tools developed in WP 3 and WP 4 will be validated by the Priority Pilots in the FoP. In WP 5 the S3C research team will assist the responsible actors in each active pilot in applying the recommendations provided by the S3C project, in order to test their efficacy and effectiveness. Besides the effects on the consumers’ behaviour, the results of the validation in WP 5 will be used, whenever possible, to assess the impact of the selected user-interaction schemes on the overall system. Results from the tests in WP 5 will be used to improve the guidelines and tools in WP 4.
S3C’s final output will be validated recommendations and guidelines that facilitate the implementation of the selected technical user-interaction schemes in future smart-grid projects and roll-outs. Active involvement of a large group of stakeholders (WP 6) will ensure that S3C results are widely publicised and will find their way into an ever growing Smart Grid Family in Europe. The guidelines as such and an easy-to-use toolkit will be available from a project website as soon as they will have been tested in the FoP. This website will be maintained for at least 5 years after the project.
This article is connected to the following knowledge article: S3C project: Drivers, barriers and challenges of end-user engagement in smart grids.
For more information, please visit http://www.s3c-project.eu/.