Understanding household decisions to become electricity producers and their role in the future energy landscape: Case studies in France with photovoltaic electricity producers.

Panel: 8. Dynamics of consumption

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Authors:
Veronique Beillan, EDF R&D, ICAME Department, France
Aurelie GOATER, Alphéeis – Energy & Environment Consulting, France

Abstract

Decentralized power generation (DPG) from renewable energy sources is gaining momentum in the European energy landscape. This can support the energy transition and can help changing the energy mix by 2020. In the residential sector, DPG generally goes with photovoltaic panels (PVs) and raises questions related to energy demand and its management: how does DPG affect consumption practices, relations to the provision chain and to the power grid? We're used to a centralized system, at least in France, with multiple distribution points and known flow rates; we are now heading towards decentralized production, in which flow rates are much less predictable. This situation affects both the grid and the management of supply and demand. it also has an impact on the role the consumer may play in this new configuration. To address these questions we need to better understand what shapes consumers’ decision to become producers: their motivations, their attitudes towards energy and the way they conceive their relation to the power grid besides considering the other key factors (technology, regulation, incentives). Our study, based on a literature review and on a qualitative ad hoc study, conducted in France, investigates the profiles, motivations and consumption practices of households who have invested in PVs. Thus, it provides insight on the willingness of these "prosumers" to take a more active role in balancing energy production and consumption (e.g. by reducing consumption during energy peaks demand or by adopting storage for self-consumption). Results of the field study show that even if public support schemes play an important role in the households’ decision making process, the adoption of PVs refers to different “fields of rationality". It's also influenced by the households’ relation to energy: producing electricity can be a way, for some of them, to become more active in the energy transition and to take part in local energy challenges.

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