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Policy-adaptation for a smarter and more sustainable EU electricity distribution industry: a foresight analysis


  • Guillermo Ivan Pereira

    () (University of Coimbra
    INESC Coimbra, Institute for Systems Engineering and Computers at Coimbra
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

  • Patrícia Pereira Silva

    () (University of Coimbra
    INESC Coimbra, Institute for Systems Engineering and Computers at Coimbra
    University of Coimbra)

  • Deborah Soule

    () (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)


The European Union (EU) transition to a smarter and more sustainable electricity sector is driven by climate change adaptation and technological developments. For the electricity distribution industry, this has contributed to a growing need to understand how these network monopolies should adapt their role, activities, and responsibilities for a redesigned electricity market, given the growth of distributed generation, and the increased control and monitoring capabilities. Considering this, a foresight study on business model innovation, technological adaptation, and market design policy alternatives is presented. A Policy Delphi method was applied, involving two iterative survey rounds and 207 European experts, which assessed 57 policy alternatives. The results highlight adaptation challenges for implementing new technologies and business practices. Experts support innovation and transition to new roles, and innovative services, while warranting that core electricity distribution activities are secured. This shift in roles is expected to be achieved through research and development (R&D) support policies, innovation friendly regulatory frameworks, and concerted actions at the EU and Member States level. The results provide policy-adaptation guidelines for electricity distribution industry stakeholders.

Suggested Citation

  • Guillermo Ivan Pereira & Patrícia Pereira Silva & Deborah Soule, 2018. "Policy-adaptation for a smarter and more sustainable EU electricity distribution industry: a foresight analysis," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 231-267, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:endesu:v:20:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10668-018-0119-x
    DOI: 10.1007/s10668-018-0119-x

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    Cited by:

    1. Indre Siksnelyte & Edmundas Kazimieras Zavadskas, 2019. "Achievements of the European Union Countries in Seeking a Sustainable Electricity Sector," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(12), pages 1-1, June.
    2. Pereira, Guillermo Ivan & Specht, Jan Martin & Silva, Patrícia Pereira & Madlener, Reinhard, 2018. "Technology, business model, and market design adaptation toward smart electricity distribution: Insights for policy making," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 426-440.
    3. Kang, Jia-Ning & Wei, Yi-Ming & Liu, Lan-Cui & Han, Rong & Yu, Bi-Ying & Wang, Jin-Wei, 2020. "Energy systems for climate change mitigation: A systematic review," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 263(C).
    4. Isabel Soares & Paula Ferreira & Luc Hens, 2018. "Energy and environmental challenges: bringing together economics and engineering (ICEE’17)," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 1-5, December.
    5. Soares, N. & Martins, A.G. & Carvalho, A.L. & Caldeira, C. & Du, C. & Castanheira, É. & Rodrigues, E. & Oliveira, G. & Pereira, G.I. & Bastos, J. & Ferreira, J.P. & Ribeiro, L.A. & Figueiredo, N.C. & , 2018. "The challenging paradigm of interrelated energy systems towards a more sustainable future," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 171-193.
    6. Pereira, Guillermo Ivan & Pereira da Silva, Patrícia & Cerqueira, Pedro André, 2020. "Electricity distribution incumbents' adaptation toward decarbonized and smarter grids: Evidence on the role market, regulatory, investment, and firm-level factors," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 142(C).


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