Smart Grid standards policy in context: A discursive-institutionalist analysis of government intervention in the European Union and the United States

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

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Abstract

Starting around 2005 and for several years, the creation of a “Smart Grid” became a key element in the quest of policymakers to operationalize the goal of “sustainable development”. In official discourse, the Smart Grid promised improved energy security and a way to support the realization of ambitious targets on reduced carbon emissions and increased use of renewable resources. Additionally, the Smart Grid was presented with the lure of “green innovation” and jobs.
The imperative of realizing these vision(s) of the Smart Grid put unprecedented focus on the world of ICT standardization. Without an agreed set of interoperability standards, promising pilot projects would not scale in a meaningful way, and the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) federal government departed from established practice within this policy domain and intervened to encourage, coordinate and accelerate standardization activities.
This thesis explores how such a policy of intervention was constructed in EU and US official policy texts. It does this by building a conceptual framework with elements from discourse theory and neo-institutionalism that aims to understand the factors of policy change in a highly technical area in the absence of crisis or repeated policy failure. How is the need to develop an agreed set of ICT interoperability standards understood as a policy problem, and how is intervention in the standardization process legitimated? What does the policy response to the challenge of Smart Grid standardization say regarding current understandings about the proper role of government and the potential for industry self-organization in policy areas relating to new technologies?
In pursuing the above questions, this thesis contributes to our understanding of a field that is under-developed yet of growing importance. As our societies are increasingly attempting to solve important challenges through the large-scale application of ICTs (Smart Transport, Smart Homes, Smart Cities), we need a better understanding of policy alternatives that go beyond the typical dichotomy of legislation versus self-regulation.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Herder, P.M., Supervisor
  • de Bruijn, J.A., Supervisor
Award date1 Mar 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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