Residential smart energy networks have been proposed to help solve network constraints by balancing supply and demand locally through demand side flexibility. In smart grid pilots, residential users are invited to help provide such value, yet it is often not clear what types of benefits and values they will enjoy when doing so, nor how it will affect everyday household practices. Based on a brief literature review and empirical work in two Dutch smart grid pilots, we argue that the accumulation and concentration of smart grid-related expertise tends to go along gendered lines. The overwhelming complexity of smart grid ‘solutions’ is challenging to all householders, yet more to women than to men – a pattern that is likely to occur in other European contexts as well as it related to the division of household labour within households.
To the extent that this results in an unevenly distributed ability to participate and reap the benefits of such participation in smart grid arrangements, this may deepen existing (gendered) divisions and undermine societal support for the energy transition. We conclude with exploring ideas for more distributed or shared learning in order to align the configurational work around smart grids better with household practices and needs.
Speaker: Sylvia Breukers (DuneWorks, Netherlands)
Co-authors: Aggeli Aggeliki (AAU, Denmark), Marten Boekelo (DuneWorks, Netherlands)