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Research Research and projects Local Energy Communities: Responsible Innovation Towards Sustainable Energy (CO-RISE)

Use and articulation of local energy storage technologies and smart micro grids for and by local energy collectives

Postdoc: B.P. (Binod) Koirala, MSc

Innovations in renewable energy technologies (PV and windmills) allowed for a fast rise of small scale locally organized energy collectives that generate electricity in a decentralized, distributed way. New sustainable forms of local energy storage and smart microgrids could possibly enhance the transformative role of local energy collectives, yet a careful alignment of technical, demand and political articulation of these new technologies will be required to realize a successful uptake in local collectives. This project will focus on the articulation of two Dutch promising energy storage innovations, the seasalt battery of Dr Ten and the heat storage system of Ecovat. The seasalt battery promises a sustainable, clean, and relatively cheap storage of electricity produced by renewable sources during the day. This system can be applied on the level of households. Ecovat stores heat in the summer, that can be retrieved in wintertime. This storage system functions at the level of neighborhoods. Both new storage technologies are currently developed at the level of working prototypes.

First, we will make an script analysis (Akrich 1992) of both system, to highlight embedded normativies in these smart local storage systems (methods: interviews with designers and engineers. Second, we will setup user pilots for seasalt battery use in collaboration with Dr. Ten and the ICT department of Twente and will empirically study the use experiences (interviews, observations). Furthermore, we will organize co-design workshops with designers and users, aiming to articulate the user demand in energy collectives and aligning them with further technological articulation. For the Ecovat case we will organize and analyze similar co-design workshops with citizen members of energy collectives. In these workshop issues such as privacy, autonomy, sustainability, economic feasibility and ownership are discussed. What are the user/stakeholder perspectives on these issues and how can these issues been taken along in the further technical articulation of these promising energy storage innovation. In doing so this project aims to stimulate social learning to improve alignment and coordination of social and technological innovations. This project too offers a unique opportunity to engage in and learn from reflexive social learning in aligning technical, demand and cultural articulation as a form of responsible innovation in the sustainable local energy storage technologies.

Last modified:15 April 2019 4.39 p.m.