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What hampers energy system transformations? The case of smart grids


  • Muench, Stefan
  • Thuss, Sebastian
  • Guenther, Edeltraud


Energy systems are undergoing significant change. Many countries have ambitions to increase the share of renewable energy in their energy mix. This development entails the challenge of incorporating an increasing amount of volatile energy supply and a higher number of energy providers on distribution grid level. The smart grid could be a solution for this challenge. However, the implementation of smart grid technologies is rather slow. In this paper, we examine which barriers exist for the implementation of smart grid technologies. Fourteen in-depth expert interviews were conducted and qualitatively analysed using the grounded theory approach. First, a dynamic definition framework of the term “smart grid” was developed that incorporates contextual factors. Second, barriers to the implementation of smart grid technologies were gathered. We identified (1) cost and benefit, (2) knowledge, and (3) institutional mechanisms as barrier categories. Third, policy implications were derived. We recommend (1) the acceptance of a diversity of solutions, (2) the acceptance of incremental change, (3) the implementation of a stable regulatory framework, (4) the alignment of interests of individual market participants with the entire system, (5) the definition of a suitable scope of regulations, and (6) the collection of problem-specific information.

Suggested Citation

  • Muench, Stefan & Thuss, Sebastian & Guenther, Edeltraud, 2014. "What hampers energy system transformations? The case of smart grids," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 80-92.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:73:y:2014:i:c:p:80-92
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2014.05.051

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