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Fostering active network management through SMEs’practises.

Powells, Gareth and Bell, Sandra and Judson, Ellis P. and Lyon, Stephen M. and Wardle, Robin and Capova, Klara Anna and Bulkeley, Harriet (2016) 'Fostering active network management through SMEs’practises.', Energy efficiency., 9 (3). pp. 591-604.


Managing the electricity network through ‘smart grid’ systems is a key strategy to address challenges of energy security, low carbon transitions and the replacement of ageing infrastructure networks in the UK. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have a significant role in shaping patterns of energy consumption. Understanding how their activities interrelate with changes in electricity systems is critical for active network management. A significant challenge for the transformation of electricity systems involves comprehending the complexity that stems from the variety of commercial activities and diversity of social and organizational practises among SMEs that interact with material infrastructures. We engage with SMEs to consider how smart grid interventions ‘fit’ into everyday operational activities. Drawing on analysis of empirical data on electricity use, smart metre data, surveys, interviews and ‘energy tours’ with SMEs to understand lighting, space heating and cooling, refrigeration and IT use, this paper argues for experimenting with the use of practise theory as a framework for bringing together technical and social aspects of energy use in SMEs. This approach reveals that material circumstances and temporal factors shape current energy demand among SMEs, with ‘connectedness’ an emergent factor.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:SMEs, Smart grid, Network management, Practise Theory, UK.
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:The final publication is available at Springer via
Date accepted:04 August 2015
Date deposited:28 August 2015
Date of first online publication:20 August 2015
Date first made open access:20 August 2016

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