Accepted paper:

Switching things on and off: encountering and monetising demand-responsiveness in dispersed electricity-using technologies


Mette Kragh-Furbo (Lancaster University)

Paper short abstract:

Energy systems are being reworked to enable electricty demand to become temporally responsive to pressures on supply. We draw on STS theorisation to examine processes by which energy-using assets are being 'hunted down', valued and monetised not for their productivity but for their non-use.

Paper long abstract:

One of the many ways in which energy systems are being reworked is in terms of shifting relationships between electricity demand and supply. From demand being taken largely as given, there is now a spreading enactment of new forms and methods of 'balancing', in which demand becomes temporally responsive to both patterns of peak creation and to fluctuations in supply from renewable energy sources. Whilst there are various ways in which demand responsiveness can be pursued and practised, currently operational schemes in the UK and elsewhere entail enrolling dispersed and mundane electricity using technologies into monetised and contractual relations with electricity market mechanisms. In these schemes electricity-using consumers and intermediary aggregators are able to generate monetary value through 'not demanding what they normally would do', in response to signals and incentives from those managing the electricity grid. We draw on STS theorisations of valuation, marketization and evidence-making and empirical research focused on actors engaged in materialising and participating in demand response schemes within businesses and large organisations in the UK, to consider the processes through which flexibly deployable assets are being 'hunted down', valued and monetised not for their productivity but for their non-use.

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Encounters between people, things and environments
Encountering energy in systems and everyday spaces