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Accepted Paper:

Creating value through collective self consumption in the UK  
Charlotte Johnson (University College London)

Paper short abstract:

Two examples of collective self consumption in the UK provide material for critical reflection on the value produced through decentralized infrastructure, including the value of anthropological knowledge in supporting the operationalization of social embedded energy markets.

Paper long abstract:

CSC offers a route to a more decentralized, flexible and low carbon electricity grid by increasing the consumption of renewable electricity generated locally. If a group of residents can use electricity from a neighbourhood Solar PV array they could reduce network peaks, ease local capacity issues and enable a greener and lower cost electricity system. Such potential motivates the UK government and electricity network operators to facilitate 'collective self-consumption' via market innovation. The offer to build such networks is taken up by community energy groups, who hope to create a new source of revenue, increase their access to sites for renewable generation assets, extend their reach through the community and allow them to design an energy market on their own terms. Anthropological theories of exchange, however, asks us to consider the morality (Bloch and Parry, 1989) and mutuality (Singh et. al, 2017) of these new forms of markets. What are the social effects when these trading platforms turn neighbours into 'donors and receivers' and redraw collectives according to the lines of the electricity cabling?

In this paper I present two empirical examples; a feasibility study of a private micro grid, and a technology pilot of P2P trading. I discuss how the different parties understand the value they aim to create and consider the ways that participants embrace, alter or reject these forms of value. I also critically reflect on the deployment of anthropological knowledge in designing these systems and remaking energy markets.

Panel P020
At the grid edge: homes, neighbourhoods and energy markets (Energy Anthropology Network)
  Session 1 Tuesday 21 July, 2020, -