Assembling the Smart Grid : On the Mobilization of Imaginaries, Users and Materialities in a Swedish Demonstration Project

Abstract: Influential actors refer to smart grids as a revamped version of the energy systemwhen they argue for alternative energy pathways, and assign demonstration projects with the task of turning prospects about the future into functional configurations. This thesis explores notions of the smart grid future that are implicitly conveyed in Swedish smart grid strategy and planning documents. The purpose of this thesis is to describe and analyse how a smart grid is assembled in a Swedish demonstration project. Inspired by Science and Technology Studies (STS), it explores this process through interviews, document studies and participant observation. By combining concepts such as sociotechnical imaginaries, material participation and translations, this study sheds light on the negotiations, tensions and struggles at play in the process of making smart grids functional. This study examines how included and excluded users make sense of the smart grid and of their own role in shaping the future. What imaginaries do the actors involved in the project draw on? What materialities take part in shaping the smart grid, and what user engagements are encouraged? The aim of the study is to seek an enhanced understanding of how smart grids are made, of the different forces that shape this process and, ultimately, of the reality of Swedish households as part of a smart grid in the making. This study shows that making a smart grid functional is not as feasible as the smart grid imaginaries suggest, and it finds potential in user engagements that are suppressed within the current market regime, which is primarily arranged around economic incentives.

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