Public Engagement and Environmental and Societal Impacts

Activities and Goals

  • Data collection of end-user’s consumption habits in different socioeconomic contexts
  • Identification of the needs of end-users and strategies for public engagement
  • Study of environmental and societal impacts

Key Findings

The scope of the study was to analyse consumers’ attitudes, preferences towards the deployment of smart metering solutions and the concerns which might hinder their deployment. The analysis first reviewed the main studies and reports conducted in Europe with regard to consumers’ attitudes and concerns toward smart metering, energy conservation and demand response programmes.

With the AnyPLACE scope in mind, the findings of these studies have then been reviewed in light of the qualitative and quantitative results of smart metering pilot project’s experiences at European level. These empirical results provided additional insight into consumer’s attitudes and preferences and highlighted the importance of consumer segmentation in order to tailor information and technological tools (devices and visualization) to different segment’s attitudes and needs.

Overall, the results obtained from the surveys and from the analysis of the JRC smart grid pilot projects are well aligned with best practices and recommendations from European and international studies on smart grid projects.

Finally, the analysis highlighted the need to take into consideration national and cultural differences. To this end, a more in-depth analysis was carried out for each of the consortium Member States and an ad-hoc questionnaire was developed to evaluate the pre-trial attitudes, preferences and concerns of the trial site population in Lippe, Germany. The questionnaire provided essential information for the assessment of the socio-economic and technical relevance of the different functionalities of the AnyPLACE platform.

Reluctance to the installation of the smart metering technology or even its mere passive acceptance will not help to realise the predicted benefits; it is necessary to move from technology acceptance to technology support. In this context, we carried out an overview of the surveys and consumer research initiatives carried out at European level to help to shed light on which attitudes, preferences and concerns drive the consumption behaviour of European consumers and influence their acceptance of the new smart metering technology.

For the development of an efficient metering solution, it is important to identify what information the consumers need in order to change and adapt their behaviour, how and through which channels this information should be presented and which barriers can hinder consumers’ acceptance of and engagement with the new technology. The analysis has shown that monetary savings are the most important driver for consumer’s adoption of the technology; consumers show a high interest in web portals, In-Home Displays (IHD) and smart applications and have various preferences for the way data should be visualised. Further, it emerges that consumers still have high privacy and security concerns.

The results of the surveys however should be taken with some caution, as the respondents’ answer is influenced by a variety of circumstances, e.g. national circumstances, the survey sampling methods and the way the questions are formulated. For this reason, it is important to compare these findings with the quantitative and qualitative results of pilot experiences carried out in different Member States. The analysis of a few representative projects from the JRC smart grid projects database confirmed some of these findings and gave further insights into consumers’ engagement dynamics that should be taken into consideration in the development of the AnyPLACE solution.

Feedback Information

  • Several feedback solutions are possible, each one with different characteristics and impacts on consumer behaviour. However, constant and physical presence of a feedback solution – as in the case of an IHD – seems to have the potential to act as a reminder to use the feedback, supporting consumers’ interaction and response.
  • Effective engagement solutions require consumer segmentation and tailoring to the different segments’ attitudes and needs. In particular, web-based service solutions seem to work better with consumers more engaged with such forms of information, particularly if they receive tailored information, including real-time feedback.
  • In order to maintain consumers’ interest over the long term, additional functionalities besides the consumption feedback (e.g. through tailored advice, prompts or challenges) could be provided.

Feedback solutions

  • Well-designed information strategies can contribute to consumer engagement and may induce behavioural change. However, attention should be paid to tailoring the feedback information to different consumers’ segments.
  • Feedback information other than economic/monetary information can help to engage different consumer segments and to maintain consumers engaged over time.
  • It is advisable to avoid information overload. Regular nuggets of information seem to be more effective than single extensive and comprehensive information.

Feedback visualisation

  • Empirical evidence about how feedback from visualisation tools will be used by consumers and how they will affect energy consumption patterns is not yet available.
  • There is no one-size-fits-all design solution but empirical evidence suggests to keep the information provided to consumers simple, providing complex functionalities in a straightforward and attractive way.

These empirical results provide additional insights on consumer’s attitudes and preferences and highlight the importance of consumers’ segmentation in order to tailor information and technological tools (devices and visualisation) to different segments’ attitudes and needs. Overall, these findings are well aligned with best practices and recommendations from European and international studies on smart grid and demand response projects.

Finally, the analysis highlighted the need to take into consideration national and cultural differences. To this end, a more in-depth analysis was carried out for each of the consortium Member States and an ad-hoc questionnaire was developed to evaluate the attitudes, preferences and concerns of the trial site population in Lippe, Germany. The questionnaire will provide essential information for the assessment of the socio-economic and technical relevance of the different functionalities of the AnyPLACE platform.

 

Further Reading

Project documentation will be available via this site as it is published.