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The double-edged sword of decentralized energy autonomy

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  • McKenna, Russell

Abstract

Whilst there are clear advantages to decentralized energy systems, one main disadvantage is their lack of economic scale effects. The development of decentralized energy systems goes hand in hand with a trend towards community energy. Many of these communities claim energy autonomy as their main motivation for investing in local renewable energies. They define energy autonomy as generation exceeding demand on an annual basis and are therefore less autonomous than without these technologies. Communities that strive for this ideal utilize the electricity network infrastructure more than traditional end of the pipe consumers. At the same time, they make a much lower contribution to the costs of this infrastructure, currently charged per unit of energy used, and often benefit from subsidized renewable energy technologies. Hence this motivation is at best questionable and at worst misplaced. A continuation of the recent rapid reductions in battery prices expected by many experts, however, could make the economic case for truly energy-autonomous municipalities. This clearly raises important questions for researchers and policymakers alike. For example, in which sorts of municipalities could such solutions make sense and what are the consequences for the overarching, mainly centralized energy system?

Suggested Citation

  • McKenna, Russell, 2018. "The double-edged sword of decentralized energy autonomy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 747-750.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:113:y:2018:i:c:p:747-750
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2017.11.033
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    3. Laura Stößel & Leila Poddie & Tobias Spratte & Ralf Schelenz & Georg Jacobs, 2021. "County Clustering with Bioenergy as Flexible Power Unit in a Renewable Energy System," Energies, MDPI, vol. 14(17), pages 1-14, August.
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    6. Fabian Scheller & Isabel Doser & Daniel Sloot & Russell McKenna & Thomas Bruckner, 2020. "Exploring the Role of Stakeholder Dynamics in Residential Photovoltaic Adoption Decisions: A Synthesis of the Literature," Energies, MDPI, vol. 13(23), pages 1-31, November.
    7. Kobashi, Takuro & Yoshida, Takahiro & Yamagata, Yoshiki & Naito, Katsuhiko & Pfenninger, Stefan & Say, Kelvin & Takeda, Yasuhiro & Ahl, Amanda & Yarime, Masaru & Hara, Keishiro, 2020. "On the potential of “Photovoltaics + Electric vehicles” for deep decarbonization of Kyoto’s power systems: Techno-economic-social considerations," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 275(C).
    8. Tong Koecklin, Manuel & Fitiwi, Desta & de Carolis, Joseph F. & Curtis, John, 2020. "Renewable electricity generation and transmission network developments in light of public opposition: Insights from Ireland," Papers WP653, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    9. Lucas Blickwedel & Laura Stößel & Ralf Schelenz & Georg Jacobs, 2020. "Multicriterial Evaluation of Renewable Energy Expansion Projects at Municipal Level for the Available Biomass Potential," Energies, MDPI, vol. 13(23), pages 1-17, November.
    10. Schumacher, K. & Krones, F. & McKenna, R. & Schultmann, F., 2019. "Public acceptance of renewable energies and energy autonomy: A comparative study in the French, German and Swiss Upper Rhine region," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 315-332.
    11. Shahin Bayramov & Iurii Prokazov & Sergey Kondrashev & Jan Kowalik, 2021. "Household Electricity Generation as a Way of Energy Independence of States—Social Context of Energy Management," Energies, MDPI, vol. 14(12), pages 1-19, June.
    12. McKenna, R. & Bertsch, V. & Mainzer, K. & Fichtner, W., 2018. "Combining local preferences with multi-criteria decision analysis and linear optimization to develop feasible energy concepts in small communities," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 268(3), pages 1092-1110.
    13. Bahers, Jean-Baptiste & Tanguy, Audrey & Pincetl, Stephanie, 2020. "Metabolic relationships between cities and hinterland: a political-industrial ecology of energy metabolism of Saint-Nazaire metropolitan and port area (France)," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 167(C).
    14. Rydin, Yvonne & Turcu, Catalina, 2019. "Revisiting urban energy initiatives in the UK: Declining local capacity in a shifting policy context," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 653-660.
    15. Sebastian Hoffmann & Fabian Adelt & Johannes Weyer, 2020. "Modelling End-User Behavior and Behavioral Change in Smart Grids. An Application of the Model of Frame Selection," Energies, MDPI, vol. 13(24), pages 1-26, December.
    16. Marko Milojević & Paweł Nowodziński & Ivica Terzić & Svetlana Danshina, 2021. "Households’ Energy Autonomy: Risks or Benefits for a State?," Energies, MDPI, vol. 14(7), pages 1-16, April.
    17. Weinand, J.M. & McKenna, R. & Fichtner, W., 2019. "Developing a municipality typology for modelling decentralised energy systems," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 75-96.
    18. Weinand, Jann Michael & Scheller, Fabian & McKenna, Russell, 2020. "Reviewing energy system modelling of decentralized energy autonomy," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 203(C).
    19. Kühnbach, Matthias & Pisula, Stefan & Bekk, Anke & Weidlich, Anke, 2020. "How much energy autonomy can decentralised photovoltaic generation provide? A case study for Southern Germany," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 280(C).
    20. Plum, Christiane & Olschewski, Roland & Jobin, Marilou & van Vliet, Oscar, 2019. "Public preferences for the Swiss electricity system after the nuclear phase-out: A choice experiment," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 181-196.
    21. Fitiwi, Desta Z. & Lynch, Muireann & Bertsch, Valentin, 2020. "Power system impacts of community acceptance policies for renewable energy deployment under storage cost uncertainty," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 156(C), pages 893-912.
    22. Athena Piterou & Anne‐Marie Coles, 2021. "A review of business models for decentralised renewable energy projects," Business Strategy and the Environment, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(3), pages 1468-1480, March.
    23. Juntunen, Jouni K. & Martiskainen, Mari, 2021. "Improving understanding of energy autonomy: A systematic review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 141(C).

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