Flexible electricity use in households: barriers, opportunities and effects (FLEXEFFECT)

The project will meet the urgent need for social science research on flexible electricity policy and technology in Norway.

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Photo: Hege Westskog/SUM

Project details

Start and end date
6/1/2019 - 12/31/2022
Norwegian Research Council

Norway normally has sufficient production (mainly by hydropower) to cover its total electricity demand. However, seasonal variations and factors such as morning and afternoon peak-hour demands and new trends in household devices and electric vehicles challenge grid capacity unless managed well (NVE 2017). Hence, Norwegian authorities are currently developing a new distribution grid tariff structure that will be capacitybased (NVE 2017).

The plan is to introduce a capacity-based tariff model from 2021 (NVE 2017). At the same time, householders, whether with or without new end-user technologies (such as photovoltaic systems (PVs) or batteries) will need flexibility in their energy use. This project meets the urgent need for social science research into the effects of policy instruments on EDF in Norway.

We focus on householders and their scheduling of electricity consumption in response to instruments for EDF during peak loads. To explore the opportunities and challenges for flexible electricity use, we focus on householders’ energy practices at large, including their degree of motivation for saving energy and investing in new energy technologies. We address how different socio-economic groups respond to and are affected by instruments for EDF. The overall objective is to provide recommendations to policymakers, businesses and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on how flexible electricity use among households can be promoted and achieved.

The project expands on recent studies of the effects of AMS metering (Hargreaves 2013, Inderberg 2015, Westskog et al. 2015, Sovacool et al. 2017), PVs in households (Standal et al. forthcoming, Winther et al. 2018, Strengers 2013) and social and economic patterns across household groups on energy consumption (Westskog et al. 2015, Darby 2012).

The project group is interdisciplinary and relies on the co-production of knowledge with the users involved. In addition to contributing important research to the international knowledge base on households’ energy consumption, the project will provide useful knowledge for business actors, policymakers and NGOs in Norway. We draw on the socio-technical systems theory (Geels 2002, 2004) as an overarching approach to analyse how different actors (and technologies) interact to reduce households’ electricity demand during peak hours.

Main objective

Provide recommendations to policymakers, businesses and NGOs on how flexible electricity use among households can be achieved.


S-1: Investigate how information and promotion material for EDF are understood and utilised by different household groups, and their attitudes to capacity pricing. S-2: Investigate how different instruments to influence EDF affect households’ scheduling of electricity use, energy practices and their motivations for energy saving, and how this varies between different household groups with respect to social and economic consequences.

S-3: Investigate how instruments to influence EDF affect householders’ motivations to invest in solar PVs and batteries for storage, and how these instruments influence their scheduling of electricity use.

S-4: Investigate how and why policies and regulations for user flexibility are being developed in Norway and Sweden, and the political feasibility of different instruments for EDF


Center for International Climate Research (CICERO), Center for Development and the Environment (SUM), Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI), SINTEF Energy Research AS, Lund University (LU), University of Otago (OU), Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE), Energy Norway, Istad Nett, Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC),Kongsberg Municipal Property (KMP), Akershus County Council (AFK), Filago AS, Norwegian Solar Energy Society (NSES).