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STESS: Socio-Technical and multilevel perspectives on Energy Services Security

Final Report Summary - STESS (STESS: Socio-Technical and multilevel perspectives on Energy Services Security)

A summary description of the project objectives
The Socio-Technical and Multilevel Perspectives on Energy Services Security (STESS) project was a 4-years research (with comparative Israel – UK components) aiming to contribute to the state-of-the-art of energy security studies and broaden their scope. While traditional approaches to energy security are supply-oriented and concentrate on the roles played by governments, suppliers and technology, STESS adopted a demand-side view on energy security and concentrated on the benefits provided to society by energy and on demand-side contribution to the security of energy services. Accordingly, STESS applied socio-technical and multi-level approaches and inquiry tools to the examination and analysis of energy services security (ESS) and to the development of strategic responses to ESS threats. This was done in the context of the transition to a low carbon economy and prosumer-oriented electricity markets, with references to future scenarios and vis-a-vis traditional top-down and supply oriented approaches to energy security.

More specifically, STESS objectives contributes to: (1) the theoretical development of the energy security state of the art literature which is currently dominated by energy supply and top-down approaches, (2) the development of ESS measurements and evaluation criteria, which are currently supply biased, (3) the development of resilience indicators and new strategic responses to ESS threats, which consider a set of supply and demand actors, and are wider than those considered in traditional approaches.
To fully explore the above the research applied multi-level analysis perspectives: (1) a top-down perspective, which examined the institutional structure of energy security and ESS; (2) a bottom-up perspective, which examined energy security and ESS from energy consumers point of view; and (3) a middle-out perspective, which examined energy security and ESS from the point of view of ‘middle actors’, which are actors that are directly and indirectly part of the energy system but are neither supplier, government or consumers.

A description of the work performed since the beginning of the project:
The following research assistants were hired in Israel and the UK: Reem Yusus, Asaf Zahor, Dr. Lucy Michaels, Ari Singer, Michal Apter, and Dr. Galit Butbul-Cohen).

Stage 1- Top-down analysis: in this stage a top-down perspective was applied to investigate the formal institutional structure of ESS vis-a-vis the traditional security of energy supply in Israel and the UK.
Research activities included a review of (a) academic literature, (b) policy documents and programs, and (c) technical aspects of the energy system and energy security in each country. In addition, interviews were held with central / local government and suppliers officials in the UK and Israel.

Stage 2 – Bottom-up analysis: In this stage energy services security was approached from a bottom up perspective to (a) better understand how end-users perceive and understand energy services, (b) evaluate small end-users willingness and ability to contribute to ESS by providing a variety of services to the grid, including microgeneration, demand response and electricity storage.
Research activities included a review of (a) the academic literature on energy-related behaviour, demand-side approach to energy security and energy services security, and (b) previous surveys on energy services and residential energy consumption. In addition, 3 population-representative surveys in Israel evaluated various variables and conditions of consumers’ willingness to participate in existing energy market and in future prosumer-oriented electricity market.

Stage 3 – Middle-out analysis: This stage focused on two types of middle actors (1) local governments which aim to reduce energy consumption at the local food catering business sector, and (2) local communities, which aim to reduce the energy consumption of their members. We examined the roles these middle actors play in providing energy services, promoting resilience and providing ESS. We also consider threats they pose to ESS.
Research activities included a review of literature on intermediaries, interviews with middle actors in Israel and the UK, and a field study in a Kibbutz.

Stages 4&5 – Integration of findings from previous stages, policy recommendations and dissemination activities: in this stage we drew the governance structure of ESS to recognize the properties of energy services security. We argue that a decentralized electricity system, with many microgrids and with numerous prosumers could pave the pathway for a low carbon, resilient and secure electricity system. In such a system, the role of consumers changes from merely consuming to the provisioning of valuable services to the electricity grid, including, microgeneration, demand reduction, demand response, and electricity storage in electric vehicles or home batteries (e.g. Tesla’s Powerwall). A prosumer market is proposed as the main mechanism for demand side integration. Willingness to participate in a prosumer oriented electricity system, however, depends on economic and non-economic incentives, on values and attitudes (toward the environment, energy independence, technology, home automation), trust in the institution that run the program, and various socio-demographic variables.
Activities included synthesis of findings and dissemination activities to the energy community, policy community (in Israel), academic community and the wide public.

A description of the main results achieved:
(a) The establishment and development of demand-side perspective to the examination of ESS.
This was presented in conferences and summarized in the following article: “Parag Yael (2014) From Energy Security to the Security of Energy Services: Shortcomings of Traditional Supply-Oriented Approaches and the Contribution of a Socio-Technical and User-Oriented Perspectives. Science & Technology Studies. 27(1):97-108 .”
Findings were also presented in conferences in Israel, India, and the UK.

(b) Analysis of Israel and the UK top-down approach to energy security reveals significant differences between the two countries: in the UK, in which domestic gas reserves are depleting and climate mitigation targets are set by legislation, there are real tensions between energy security policies and climate change policies. Energy consumers are starting to be recognized by the central and local governments as important actors that could contribute to ESS. In Israel, which recently discovered significant gas reserves, energy security is a synonym to the security of supply. Israel’s climate change targets are modest, energy efficiency schemes are uncertain and demand reduction scheme are not supported. Consumers are not seen by the government as having any roles in ESS. Findings were presented and discussed in conferences in Israel.

(c) The middle out analysis in Israel and the UK highlighted the role of various local and national organiations in disseminating knowledge and scaling up local low-carbon actions. Results were published in the following articles:
Hamilton, J., Mayne, R., Parag Y. and Bergman, N. (2014). Scaling up local carbon action: the role of partnerships, networks and policy. Carbon Management 5(4): 463-476
Parag Yael, Jo Hamilton, Vicki White and Bernie Hogan (2013), Network approach for local and community governance of energy: the case of Oxfordshire. Energy Policy 62: 1064-1077.
Parag Yael, Shai Zur & Nadav Raz. Levels of consumers' agency and capacity as predictors for electricity demand reduction in the residential sector. Under review Energy Efficiency.
In addition, a report for policy maker was published in Israel:
Parag Yael (2014) Middle-out transition for sustainable urban energy consumption and production. An expert report for the Urban Sustainability project report in Hebrew.

(d) Following our analysis of the UK case we proposed a demand-side Negawatt market as a complementary market for the supply-side capacity market. A Negawatt market could contribute to both energy services security and climate mitigation. The Negawatt market as a mean to improve ESS was presented in conferences in the UK and the US.
Later in the research, however, we further developed the Negawatt market concept to the Prosumer-oriented market, which goes beyond energy saving and energy efficiency and sees a greater role for demand side in providing and contributing to ESS. We presented the prosumer market concept in conferences in Israel, Europe and the US and in the following articles:
Parag Yael and Benjamin Sovacool (2016) Electricity market design for the prosumer era. Nature Energy 1(4). DOI: 10.1038/NENERGY.2016.32.
Parag Yael (2015) Beyond energy efficiency: A ‘prosumer market’ as an integrated platform for consumer engagement with the energy system. ECEEE 2015 Summer Study”.

(e) Our bottom up analysis highlighted (a) the demand side potential contribution to ESS and (b) how willingness to actively participate in a prosumer oriented energy markets is influenced by socio-demographic variables, trust, attitudes toward technology, personal values and other components. Findings were accepted to, and will be presented in conferences in the UK and US. Two papers are being written and the following paper is under review:
Parag Yael and Lucy Michaels. Motivations and Barriers for integrating ‘prosuming’ services into the future decentralized electricity grid. Under review Energy Research and Social Scineces.