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An Australian smart grid pilot : governance, implementation and the utility ‐ prosumer interaction

Patterson, VAJ 2020 , 'An Australian smart grid pilot : governance, implementation and the utility ‐ prosumer interaction', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

The Australian electricity sector risks increasing disruption due to a transition toward decentralisation. Smart batteries are expected to enhance decentralisation by providing privately‐owned storage. However, decentralised storage is problematic if implementation is ad‐hoc. The management of the two‐way flow of electricity and payments between households and utilities is a new, pivotal relationship and the focus of this thesis. During system disruption, how might a transition be encouraged to be accelerated yet be governed in an orderly manner? Further, what pre‐conditions enhance the breakthrough of smart batteries into the mainstream? This thesis explores these questions theoretically and through an Australian case study. Two areas of theory are drawn on, specifically; policy implementation and strategic niche management (SNM), from Public Policy Studies, and Science and Technology Studies respectively. The theoretical framework proposes four favourable pre‐conditions for the innovative breakthrough of technologies into the mainstream, namely: systems‐thinking and an SNM approach; policy implementation at the small‐scale; households driving change; and, new entrants or business models adapting to system challenges.
The case study is a 34‐household smart‐grid pilot which tested the coordination of internet‐enabled batteries supporting the local grid on Bruny Island, Australia. The research centres on interviews (86) with householders, installers, policy experts, economic and engineering researchers, within and external to the case study.
Thesis findings include: the central importance of the installers for the successful implementation of smart batteries, suggesting that these actors deserve more policy attention; for the prosumer‐utility relationship, technology acceptance is argued to be a product of engagement, agency and trust; household decision‐making includes significant non‐economic values; and, the observation of SNM‐like practices.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Patterson, VAJ
Keywords: smart grid, energy policy, governance, implementation. prosumers, CBA, technology acceptance, battery installers
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Copyright 2020 the author

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