A Review of Drivers and Barriers for Demand Side Flexibility : The perspective of electric grid customers

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Energisystem

Abstract: The thesis aims to obtain a holistic perspective of opportunities, drivers and barriers that different grid customers experience when enabling demand side flexibility. Due to the increasing problems of capacity shortage of electricity in large cities in Sweden, solutions on the demand side of the electric power grid have become increasingly interesting. Demand side flexibility is a voluntary change of demanded electricity from the grid due to some kind of incentive, which can help support balancing the electric power grid to avoid capacity shortages. Furthermore, the energy transition towards a decentralised power system with an increasing share of variable renewable energy requires a changed demand profile. In this research, a qualitative research methodology was applied. Eleven semi-structured interviews were conducted with case companies within the industry and property company segment. Interviews were also conducted with three actors on the electric power market providing services to aggregate the potential of smaller flexibility resources, as well as with an expert from the Swedish Energy Market Inspectorate. A State of the Art review was completed in order to collect theory and draft previously identified aspects of demand side flexibility. The result shows that the concept is not unknown amongst electricity customers. However, there is a limited knowledge and interest in enabling demand side flexibility. The knowledge gap includes the awareness of potential flexibility resources as well as business opportunities of providing flexibility services. Conflicting priorities within organisations also presents an important barrier, where other easier and more profitable measures may be prioritised. There is also a fear of disrupting core business by causing loss of quality, comfort or production, which proposes a barrier. To overcome mentioned barriers and increase flexibility the financial benefits have to be distinctive and clear. Further, case companies express an ambition of contribution to the environment and sustainable development. By increasing the awareness of the benefits which increased flexibility induces, electricity consumers can become more motivated in adapting a flexible consumption. In addition, case companies express a desire of being early adopters in order to prevent future forced participation or termination of business. In order to enable demand side flexibility the knowledge and interest of the concept must increase. This should be done by providing clear, comprehensible information about the business opportunities of demand side flexibility as well as showcasing successful examples of implementation. Furthermore, it should include suggestions of easy, economical measures different grid customers could carry out to increase their flexibility. By providing this information the interest in flexibility can increase, thus increase the implementation and participation.

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