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Distributed energy systems as common goods: Socio-political acceptance of renewables in intelligent microgrids

Maarten Wolsink

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2020, vol. 127, issue C

Abstract: The future social-technical system (STS) of power supply based on renewables depends heavily upon the rapid emergence of Distributed Energy Systems (DES). The prime object of Social Acceptance processes of renewable energy innovation becomes the issue of how to incorporate DES. The realization of this transformation requires the escape from locked-in hierarchy and standardized design of the centralized grid. This review elaborates the advanced conceptualization of Social Acceptance, particularly its socio-political layer. High diffusion of DES in intelligent microgrids leads to polycentricity replacing hierarchy. Therefore, the main object of 'socio-political acceptance' concerns institutional changes replacing hierarchy by co-production within STSs applying DES. Renewables become 'common goods' in such systems, instead of 'private' or 'public' goods. Systems providing 'common goods' like renewables -that are natural resources-show similarities to socialecological systems, the self-governing entities in common pool resources theory. Application of this institutional theory to co-production in DES leads to the following conclusions on socio-political acceptance. Renewables generation, integration, storage, intelligence and demand response require a shift towards co-producing prosumers. Electricity as an economic good must be redefined from commercial private commodity delivered in a public grid towards a co-produced common good. Essential for common prosumer-based DES is the application of peer-to-peer deliverance (P2P). Policy must avoid to interfere in this and also should remove legal obstructions and transaction costs for P2P and coproduction. As space is the prime scarcity factor for DES, prosumers' communities should also be empowered in co-producing land use decisions for construction of their DES infrastructures.

Keywords: Social acceptance; Common good; Distributed energy; Polycentricity; Coproduction; Social-technical system; Intelligent grid; Microgrid; Regime change; Institutional change; Demand response; P2P (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2020.109841

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