Work Package 3: Social & Institutional Factors

WP3 relates the case particularities (WP1 & 2) to a broader societal perspective by investigating how societal and institutional factors affect the viability of smart grid implementation and use. To address this guiding question, work within WP3, led by Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), focuses both on local as well as regional and national level.

Locally, interventions and triggered dynamics by Rural Spark’s work to embed and
commercialize smart grid prototypes in selected villages, will be closely studied. This is done by following an ethnographic approach, which generally aims to learn about how people behave and attach meanings to the realities they live in. The careful study of routines and actions related to smart grid implementation in the specific local settings will give empirical insights into Rural Spark’s implementation approach and – connected to this – into the users’ practices and values related to smart grid technology.

This generates empirically grounded insights (Charmaz, 2014) for practical and theoretical discussions about user and engagement related questions (Höffken, 2012, 2014) and the importance of routines and practices (Shove & Walker, 2010) in the changing electricity sector landscape.

These insights will be related to regional and national dynamics surrounding smart grids. Valorization panelists will support the access into different societal domains. By “following the actors” (Latour, 2005), including those from government institutions, utilities, consumer and civil society organizations, IT and power sector companies, empirical insights will be gained about institutions, players, opportunities and roadblocks around smart grids at regional and national level.

This WP uses the full scale of qualitative research methods, including in depth-interviewing, participant observation, but also document analyses. This enables rich data generation for theorizing that will inform the development (WP1) and actual implementation of prototypes (WP2) and will feed into the ethical analyses of WP4 as well as the theorizing on upscaling of WP5.