Conflicting values in the smart electricity grid a comprehensive overview

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This paper aims to anticipate social acceptance issues related to the deployment of the smart electricity grid by identifying underlying value conflicts. The smart electricity grid is a key enabler of the energy transition. Its successful deployment is however jeopardized by social acceptance issues, such as concerns related to privacy and fairness. Social acceptance issues may be explained by value conflicts, i.e. the impossibility for a technological or regulatory design to simultaneously satisfy multiple societal expectations. Due to unsatisfied expectations concerning values, social discontent may arise. This paper identifies five groups of value conflicts in the smart electricity grid: consumer values versus competitiveness, IT enabled systems versus data protection, fair spatial distributions of energy systems versus system performance, market performance versus local trading, and individual access versus economies of scale. This is important for policy-makers and industry to increase the chances that the technology gains acceptance. As resolving value conflicts requires resources, this paper suggests three factors to prioritize their resolution: severity of resulting acceptance issues, resolvability of conflicts, and the level of resources required. The analysis shows that particularly the socio-economic disparities caused by the deployment of the smart electricity grid are alarming. Affordable policies are currently limited, but the impact in terms of social acceptance may be large.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-196
Number of pages13
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Moral acceptability
  • Probabilistic topic models
  • Semantic fields
  • Smart electricity grid
  • Technology acceptance
  • Value conflicts


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  • Value conflicts in energy systems

    de Wildt, T. E., 2020, 189 p.

    Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

    Open Access
    192 Downloads (Pure)

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