Design methodology – a user-centered perspective on smart grids

The vision of smart grids often includes assumptions about household participation. Every link in the chain, from vision to household, deserves a careful analysis and strategy to achieve its goal.

If the technology and related services lack in usability for the intended users, the vision of smart grids risk not being realized. The vision of smart grids as part of society's efforts to reduce climate impact may be clear to actors such as politicians and energy companies. But there is a distance, or perhaps even different forms of play, between the vision and its realization and thus also to the target groups affected by it. This includes how the smart grids are implemented in homes and how the technology becomes useful and benefits people's everyday lives.

The starting point is to reverse the current trend with a focus on technology rather than the people in the development and introduction of smart grids in homes. The implementation projects that have been done in Europe are dominated by technology rather than social factors. The concept of "active users" is vague and questionable and there is a general challenge in finding a good balance between automation of systems and user control.

A focus on the user

Competence in the research area for human collaboration with digital services, design research and behavioral science – for example in the form of user involvement and stakeholders – can build bridges between the people living in homes and smart grids. This area explores how methodology for the development of smart grids in homes can be based on that competence. The area includes projects that explore methodology for understanding, developing and introducing smart grids in homes. The projects must include participation from different types of user groups with their interests and in their real environment.