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12.06.2014 von: Prof. Dr. Stephanie Teufel

The Changing Decision Patterns of the Consumer in a Decentralized Smart Grid

Efficiency, sustainability and optimization of the supply chain are central topics for industries requiring constant alterations. In particular, the well regulated electricity market is subject to far-reaching transformations towards an intelligent network: one can observe a shift from conventional to alternative or renewable sources, but also changes the traditional role of supplier and consumer. This paper examines the role of the consumer in the Swiss electricity market, especially the strategic decision-making.

Each action of the consumer is aligned to fulfill its most important objectives: security of supply and economic viability. External factors such as policy and technological developments – specifically decentralized storage – provide greater sphere of influence for the consumer to manage electricity and eventually alter the price-mechanism within the network. However, in a complex interrelated socio-technological system actions of any participant cannot be arbitrary.

Whilst previous research suggests that the consumer act according to rational choice or non-cooperative game theory, it is not a sufficient justification of consumer decision making in a socio-technological environment. Thus, it is fundamentally important to extend the understanding of consumer motivations. To this end, this empirical research elaborates the decision-making pattern supported by the technological change. The finding suggests that a certain diffusion of decentralized generation and storage permits the consumer to act like a trader. Central for trading is the ‘security of supply’ value and any prospect of gains and losses in the value entails switching between risk averse and risk seeking behavior. Also, this article provides basic outlines of policy and business provisions to encourage the contribution of the consumer in the smart grid.

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