Philippa Calver and Neil Simcock
The transition to a digital, decarbonised, and decentralised energy system presents both risks and opportunities for the domestic consumer. Domestic ‘demand-side response’ (DSR), where household electrical consumption adjusts in response to external signals, has been envisioned in different ways with several trials demonstrating that DSR often has variegated and uneven consumer outcomes. This plurality of outcomes raises questions about the ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ of pursuing such policies and thus brings them into the realm of energy justice – a framing that seeks to understand the ethical implications of energy systems. This paper, based on an extensive review of current academic literature, evaluates the normative implications of DSR in relation to the eight principles of energy justice proposed by Sovacool and Dworkin (2015). Whilst there are several ways that DSR may create opportunities for furthering energy justice, there are also multiple risks of injustice, with much depending on how particular DSR programmes are designed and the presence or absence of sufficient policies to mitigate regressive outcomes. Further empirical research is required to better understand the conditions through which DSR can contribute to energy justice. We conclude by offering policy recommendations for those developing DSR or consumer protection policies related to DSR rollout.
Calver, P. and Simcock, N. 2021. Demand response and energy justice: A critical overview of ethical risks and opportunities within digital, decentralised, and decarbonised futures. Energy Policy, 151: 112198. doi: Opens in a new tab10.1016/j.enpol.2021.112198
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