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SOCIAL ACCEPTABILITY & RESPONSIBLE DEVELOPMENT OF ENERGY SYSTEMS

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.Understanding the whole energy system of the future involves us
i) working in a shared socio-technical “problem space” encompassing what is considered to be:
Possible/plausible and desirable
We are mapping this out (our “issues space”)
Engaging with publics/ideas about imagined futures

ii) Understanding diverse impacts of dynamic changes arising on daily life, the lifecourse, and emergent socio-technical/systems

Smart - as an emergent (socio-technical & socio-cultural) systems dynamic - will impact in ways that matter greatly to people– raising non-trivial research issues

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SOCIAL ACCEPTABILITY & RESPONSIBLE DEVELOPMENT OF ENERGY SYSTEMS

  1. 1. Prof. Karen Henwood, Prof. Nick Pidgeon, Dr Christopher Groves, Dr Fiona Shirani, Dr Erin Roberts UNDERSTANDING RISK GROUP & SCHOOL OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, CARDIFF UNIVERSITY SOCIAL ACCEPTABILITY & RESPONSIBLE DEVELOPMENT OF ENERGY SYSTEMS
  2. 2. WHOLE ENERGY SYSTEM OF THE FUTURE, IN A WELSH SPECIFIC POLICY CONTEXT
  3. 3. FLEXIS DEMONSTRATOR SITE – PORT TALBOT STEELWORKS AND REGION
  4. 4. FLEXIS SOCIAL SCIENCES –AN EXPANDED SOCIO- TECHNICAL PROBLEM SPACE FOR INVESTIGATING OUR ENERGY FUTURE Understanding the whole energy system of the future involves us i) working in a shared socio-technical “problem space” encompassing what is considered to be: Possible/plausible and desirable - We are mapping this out (our “issues space”) - Engaging with publics/ideas about imagined futures ii) Understanding diverse impacts of dynamic changes arising on daily life, the lifecourse, and emergent socio-technical/systems Smart - as an emergent (socio-technical & socio- cultural) systems dynamic - will impact in ways that matter greatly to people– raising non-trivial research issues Original image from woodybpower.biz
  5. 5. ‘SMART ENERGY’ – A CONTEMPORARY ISSUE within the ‘FLEXIS PROBLEM SPACE’ A KEY ISSUE Challenges presented by “Energy Trilemma” (approached as socio-technical problem space) A KEY QUESTION Where are opportunities and obstacles relating to how people use energy? (for a wider picture see energybiographies.org) SMART HOMES Energy as central focus, with two strategies; • Creating smart consumers through real time information • Automating energy management Image retrieved from UK Construction Week website: http://www.ukconstructionweek.com/blog/innovation/1270- meeting-the-energy-trilemma
  6. 6. MULTIPLE MEANINGS OF ‘SMART’ Interconnected Intuitive Innovative Automatic Convenient Efficient Digital Control Managed at a distance Responsive Frictionless Retrieved from https://www.gizmodo.com.au/ 2016/04/the-smart-home-of- the-future-is-damn-hard-work/
  7. 7. SOCIAL SCIENCE LITERATURE ON SMART ‘In seeking to perform a self-reproducing smart ontology in which human action is framed around the idealised energy consumer – Resource Man – the Smart Utopia excludes, ignores or seeks to eradicate the vast majority of human experience and energy’s role within it.’ (Strengers, 2013; 155) ‘A fundamental problem with Resource Man… is that he is inadvertently enrolled in consuming more resources. More specifically, his ‘smart lifestyle’ involves the establishment of new electricity-enabled ways of cooling, heating and securing bodies and homes, as well as more energy-intensive ways of eating, entertaining, working and playing… serious questions remain about the sustainability of this global vision, in terms of both the energy required to realise it and the environmental impacts of providing and consuming the energy needed to perform it.’ (Strengers, 2013; 157)
  8. 8. SOCIAL SCIENCE LITERATURE ON SMART ‘Whilst the SEMs [smart energy monitors] prompted some initial behavioural changes to cut out unnecessary and wasteful energy use, once this ‘normal’ level of consumption had been learnt, the monitors then appeared to be used only for very specific reasons and to provide little or no motivation to reduce energy consumption further — especially in the absence of wider policy and market measures to save energy. Further, and perhaps worryingly, the monitors appeared in some cases to have reinforced and hardened this ‘normal’ level of consumption, leading householders to react defensively to any subsequent calls to cut their energy use.’ (Hargreaves et al., 2013; 132)
  9. 9. By DANA HULL, BLOOMBERG NEWS | PUBLISHED: May 10, 2010 at 12:26 pm | UPDATED: August 13, 2016 at 10:18 pm After earlier insisting that only “a few” customers with its new SmartMeters received inaccurate utility bills, PG&E acknowledged Monday that the number may be as high as 23,000. PG&E couldn’t say how many of those customers were overcharged, how many were undercharged or the total sum of the inaccuracies. But the utility conceded it has done a poor job responding to consumer complaints about SmartMeters and announced a major overhaul of its customer service efforts. While we have confidence in this technology, some of our customers question whether they can have faith in our SmartMeter program, and frankly in PG&E,” said Senior Vice President Helen Burt, the chief customer officer. “Restoring this trust is absolutely critical to us [© Digital First Media 2017]
  10. 10. ENERGY BIOGRAPHIES (2011-2016) • Qualitative longitudinal study involving 4 community case sites • 36 people took part in three interviews over the course of one year • Participants also undertook photograph activities • Final interviews focussed on the future and participants were shown videos of imagined future homes, which included a range of technological innovations
  11. 11. REFLECTING ON SMART HOMES
  12. 12. SMART UTOPIA? “I think it’s a brilliant idea you know this challenge of having to feed 9 billion people, the more food production you could get into city flats the better. Yeah I thought that was wonderful.” (Dennis, RFH) (Jonathan, Peterston) “I think its although I’m environmentally minded I am also taken by kind of gadgets so I can see nice things, well built could inspire me but I don’t think that the kind of thinking it may actually come up. Like the fridge … it scans the items you put in and if you run out of butter it sort of scans and then puts it on your shopping electronically and it gets ordered and all this but I still think it sort of dumbs us down as a kind of society and replaces our you know ingenuity and our thinking, free thinking with controlled you know thinking and you know computerisation of everything and but I think from in terms of self-cleaning tiles and surfaces you know why not?”
  13. 13. COSTS OF SMART “But there’s a price to pay for it and it’s not just the money, you know you walk around the city and it looks pretty dire sometimes and everyone is in their little houses and you know in lots of futuristic films you see cities of the future and they look, they’re wrecked, everything looks dreadful, there’s advertising hoardings everywhere and you know people are flying around on hover boards and stuff but the actual cities are dirty and it’s kind of realising that as people create their environments in their minds and in their interiors they’re less bothered about what’s going on out there.” (Jack, Ely)
  14. 14. ENABLING TECHNOLOGIES Doug Joan “I’m just learning at the moment but the future is to have everything controllable without getting out of my settee, just because I love gadgets and I just oh I love it, that’s the best thing I’ve ever bought that is [Amazon Alexa].” “When we had our new boiler fitted I had one of these fancy Hive thermostats fitted and it, it’s mad, it sends me, it sends me a report every month to tell me how warm my house is compared to other users nearby. Now I don’t know how many users there are nearby because they don’t tell you that, but we’re usually about half a degree warmer on average than our closest neighbours.” “And if you go away it will email to say your house is at such and such degrees, do you want to turn the heating up for half an hour, it’s like what? [laughs]”
  15. 15. SMART TECHNOLOGIES & ENHANCING THE ENERGY FUTURE What do smart technologies, contracts and systems offer? How transformative? Concept of smart energy futures is not without controversy; questions opened up by intangible dependencies – e.g. in the home valuing automation over felt connection with things that matter/make a life worth living (cf importance of not feeling dumbed down by distancing from energy infrastructure) Transactive energy? Non-consumerist, for grid resilience & energy security? Smart as automation/rendering invisible of energy as an object of transactions, while some of the other infrastructure needed to make it work (eg houses as power stations) is about making dependency on energy more visible How well attuned is generating satisfaction with new energy platform for goods and services to dealing with decarbonising the energy system? Some engineering interest : work on power electronics and grid balancing Smart revolution has key implication; conceiving of energy less as a valuable (but resource limited) commodity and something more intangible to be traded within a smart system It is unlikely to be a one way benefit; real world public dialogue brings opportunities for reflection on questions of socially acceptability of, and responsiveness to, unintended consequences & specific challenges bound up with these digital revolutions of data and consumer products
  16. 16. Thanks for listening Diolch am wrando http://www.flexis.wales http://www.energybiographies.org
  17. 17. FLEXIBLE, INTEGRATED ENERGY SYSTEMS (Flexis) (2016-2021) WP3 •Communities, Energy Controversies and Risk Governance WP2 •Energy System Change and Everyday Life WP1 •Flexible Systems and Expert Visions • Engineering and Social Science network exploring energy system transition • Three social science work packages

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