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Accepted Paper:

Smart meeters: Democratising the automation of energy infrastructure during transitions  


Siddharth Sareen (University of Stavanger)

Paper short abstract:

The article identifies scalar biases in who controls and who is made responsible for socio-technical infrastructural interventions. Using comparative cases of smart meter roll-out, it contributes to energy geographies debates on democratising automation of infrastructures during energy transitions.

Paper long abstract:

Within the energy geographies debate on the uneven scalar effects of energy transitions, this article addresses the under-examined intersection of automation and energy transitions. Using a comparative case of smart meter rollouts, it draws on two contrasting studies - one with an urban living lab during Norway's near-universal smart meter rollout to three million consumers, and the other at the national scale in Portugal during its quarter completed smart meter rollout across six million consumers. It identifies twin scalar biases: (i) social aspects of automation are controlled at higher scales while users are responsibilised for them at the household scale, and (ii) both control over and responsibility for technical aspects are restricted to higher scales. The article empirically identifies how these scalar biases modulate socio-technical infrastructural interventions, such as smart meters, to render automated futures undemocratic.

Panel C08
Epistemic politics in energy transitions research