About MATCH

The aim of MATCH is to support the transition to a sustainable energy system through comparative case studies of smart grid solutions for small consumers (households and small profit/non-profit organisations) in Norway, Austria and Denmark. The project also explores the wider energy system implications of upscaling the studied smart grid solutions.

With the challenges of climate change and resource depletion, the development of an electricity system independent of fossil fuels has become a long-term goal. Improving the energy efficiency and substituting fossil fuels with renewable energy resources rank among the most important measures on the path to a post-carbon electricity system. However, the integration of renewables involves several critical design challenges due, in particular, to the intermittent and less concentrated nature of the renewable sources (in particular solar and wind power).

More generally, the climate change agenda – along with international trends of market liberalization and the introduction of new information and communication technologies – challenges the previous centralized electricity-system model and has opened for new development paths that are still very much “in the making”. With this follows a shift in the balance from centralized towards distributed electricity generation, which implies new and more complex roles of the energy system actors.

These changes also apply to small consumers. For instance, many households have become “micro-generators” by installing their own wind turbines or photovoltaics – and a future electricity system with demand-side management (demand response) based on flexible prices is envisaged by planners and tested in many trials and demonstrations across Europe. However, the future role(s) of small consumers is still an open question and there is a need for developing better smart grid solutions based on thorough knowledge on how these are integrated in the context of the small consumers. The MATCH project will contribute to cover this need.

 

Objectives

Through detailed comparative studies of demonstration projects in Austria, Norway and Denmark, MATCH contributes with new knowledge on how to design comprehensive smart grid solutions for small consumers. Also, the project contributes to knowledge sharing between different types of actors through involving partners from both the research community and the electricity sector.

MATCH studies how small consumers act within different set-ups of smart grid solutions. We aim to identify characteristics related to technological design, market solutions and types of stakeholder involvement (e.g. in relation to ownership) that influence how well small consumers adopt smart grid solutions. This is done through follow-up studies of smart grid demonstration projects in the three countries (minimum three cases per country).

The specific objectives of MATCH are to:

  • Provide knowledge about how technology design, stakeholder involvement and market solutions influence the success of smart grid demonstration projects.
  • Explore the potentials and limits for the active involvement of small consumers (prosumers) in electricity generation and balancing the grid (supply and demand).
  • Develop recommendations for designers, energy system planners and policy-makers on how to develop comprehensive smart grid solutions that integrate technology, market and stakeholders.
  • Develop energy system analyses on basis of the findings from the specific case studies in order to explore how different solutions will work together on an aggregated system level.
  • Disseminate the results across Europe

 

Approach

The project focuses on lessons learned from existing pilot and demonstration projects and compares these in order to identify the characteristics that influence the degree of successfulness and efficiency of these projects. By following up on existing demonstration and pilot projects instead of developing new solutions and demonstrations, MATCH covers a larger number of demonstration projects, which will substantiate the comparative findings and knowledge exchange among the partners.

The analytical approach is interdisciplinary, covering expertise related to the following research fields: Consumer practices (practice theory), the interaction between users and technology (Science and Technology Studies), social learning and experimentation in development of new technologies (Constructive Technology Assessment), energy system analysis and living lab methods.

As the approach is interdisciplinary and cross-sectorial, the study does­­­ not take departure in one specific theoretical model or framework. Instead, we integrate various theoretical perspectives related to the research domains of technology, actors (stakeholders), system analysis and – to a smaller degree – markets and business models. The analytical approach is therefore relatively open, although it will in particular be inspired by the traditions of technology assessment, Science and Technology Studies (STS) and practice theory.

The project applies a “mixed methods” approach to study the cases from different perspectives and ensure a qualified and elaborated analysis on how the specific smart grid solutions depend on different factors related to technology, market design and actor involvement. Thus, MATCH draws on qualitative methods (e.g. interviews with consumers and other relevant stakeholders) as well as quantitative methods (e.g. surveys or consumption data).

 

Work plan

The project is divided into the following work packages (WPs):

 

WP1: Design overall analytical framework for case studies

This WP develops the overall analytical framework for the case studies. The framework reflects the shared analytical approach and ensures that each case study covers the three dimensions of market, technology and actors. The design also ensures that the outcome of the specific case studies feeds into the comparative analysis and the final energy system analysis (WP3 & WP4).

WP leader: Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

 

WP2: Detailed case studies

Detailed case studies of demonstration projects are carried out as “follow-research”. The main responsible for the case studies in each country is the research partner of this country. The case studies are guided by the analytical framework developed in WP1.

WP leader: Danish Building Research Institute (SBi), Aalborg University.

 

WP3: Identifying determining factors for integrated and successful smart grid solutions

Identifies the factors/characteristics related to market, technology and actor involvement that are decisive for designing integrated smart grid solutions for small consumers that work under real-life settings. It is a comparative analysis of the findings from WP2.

WP leader: Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA), Austrian Academy of Sciences.

 

WP4: Energy system analysis

Analyses the dynamic relations between different smart grid solutions for small consumers in order to provide recommendations on how to combine and integrate solutions on a system level. Results in a number of scenarios that visualize the system-related consequences of combining different solutions.

WP leader: The Sustainable Energy Planning Research Group, Aalborg University.

 

WP5: Recommendations for designers, planners and policy-makers

Synthesises the findings from WP2-5 in order to develop recommendations on how to design an integrated energy system with small consumers as active participants in solving systemic challenges related to the transition to a low-carbon energy system.

WP leader: Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA), Austrian Academy of Sciences.

 

WP6: Dissemination and knowledge sharing (Knowledge Community)

Facilitates the dissemination of the project results. Specific activities include: Contribute to the ERA-Net Smart Grids Plus Knowledge Community, setting up a project website / weblog, supporting the dissemination activities of the partners etc.

WP leader: Danish Building Research Institute (SBi), Aalborg University.

 

WP7: Project management

Facilitates the collaboration between the partners and the overall advancement of the project.

WP leader: Danish Building Research Institute (SBi), Aalborg University.

 

Financial support

The MATCH project runs from February 2016 to July 2018 and is supported by ERA-Net Smart Grids Plus.

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