India faces two major challenges in the field of electricity generation and use. Its electricity demand is growing while its central grid suffers from severe performance deficits. Meanwhile, a significant part of India’s population does not even have access to the central grid. The Indian government aims to address these challenges in part by using smart grids, energy networks that use ICT to match supply and demand from multiple sources. However, successful smart grid development is not simply a matter of getting the technology right: social embedding, ethical acceptability and institutional support are at least as important. This project therefore sets out to answer the question: How can smart grids be successfully developed and implemented in rural India.
The project’s work is divided into five work packages (WPs). WP1 investigates technical specifications and develops a smart grid prototype. WP2 investigates how smart grids can be embedded and commercialized in the rural Indian energy market, using the Hidden Design method. WP3 investigates how societal and institutional factors affect the viability of smart grid implementation and use in India, using an ethnographic approach in combination with insights from transition studies. WP4 addresses ethical challenges, especially the question to what degree hidden design can replace deliberative processes as a fair and just method of stakeholder involvement. WP5 investigates which key factors affect the potential for upscaling smart grids throughout India. Goal of the project is to answer the research question by the actual responsible development and implementation of a smart grid prototype.
The project’s official website can be found at http://indiasmartgrids.com/. You can also follow the project on Twitter at @smartgridsindia
This project has been financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research NWO under its Societally Responsible Innovation (MVI) scheme. More information can be found here.
Project members: prof. dr. G.P.J. Verbong.
Project collaborators: dr. J.I. Höffken, dr. A.J.K. Pols, dr. A. Spahn