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The social power grid : The role of institutions for decentralizing the electricity grid

The world’s existing electricity grids face several challenges if they are to continue to provide a stable supply in the future. Aging electricity grids and the massive implementation of renewable sources require a different flexibility and robustness of future grids. Large amounts of renewable sources are implemented locally and on a small scale, increasing pressure on distribution grids to manage variable generation and bi-directional power flows. A decentralized electricity system includes both new technological designs as well as social re-organizations where prosumers become more prominent in the development and responsibilities of the electricity system. The existing centralized electricity system is fundamentally different from the decentralized, and the transformation requires an institutional framework which support the logics of decentralized technologies and organizations. Some technologies which are relevant for a decentralized electricity system include solar PV and MGs. The aim of the thesis is to investigate how the transformation toward a decentralized electricity system affects and is affected by informal institutions among relevant actors, specifically prosumers, and formal institutions related to the existing electricity system. To guide the aim this research uses a conceptual framework stemming from the theoretical field of sustainability transitions with a special emphasis on institutions. The results show that a wide variety of experienced values enhances the positive experiences with solar PV technology and thus prosumers increase their engagement and responsibilities in their own electricity system. Moreover, the values are used to enhance the positive narrative of the niche and thereby increase the attractiveness for external actors. In the formative developing field of community MGs, institutions play an important role. Informal institutions shape the formal institutional development, which also influences the informal institutions in return, by enhancing opportunities for certain groups, such as the energy democracy movement, to reach out with their message. Thus, it is concluded that informal institutions play a significant role in the development of a decentralized electricity system, affecting several niche development parameters and influencing the initial trajectories to further develop. Moreover, it is concluded that institutional developments are crucial for the development of community MGs and that informal institutional developments within communities are shaping the formal institutional developments in the sector.
Date January 2020
CreatorsWarneryd, Martin
PublisherHögskolan Dalarna, Energiteknik, Mälardalens högskola, Framtidens energi, Västerås : Mälardalen University
Source SetsDiVA Archive at Upsalla University
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeLicentiate thesis, comprehensive summary, info:eu-repo/semantics/masterThesis, text

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