Energy Services in Sweden - Customer Relations towards Increased Sustainability

University dissertation from Tryckeriet i E-huset, Lunds universitet

Abstract: Energy use and supply are evident issues to consider for a sustainable development, where the economic, social and environmental aspects are all important. In large grid-bound systems, the supply of energy is usually a rather invisible activity and the contacts between household custo-mers and utilities are sometimes only repre-sented through the energy bill. In this thesis, three particular fields are emphasized where these interactions comes into focus: Electricity peak load problems and load manage-ment in households; Energy monitoring and feedback, and; The selling of district heating to households in de-tached house areas. Improved customer relations in these areas can both increase the energy utilities abilities to compete on the markets and to contri-bute to an increased sustainable development within the energy sector. The traditional ways to handle peak load problems in the Swedish electricity system have been to build new power plants and to reinforce the elec-tricity grid. However,there are many reasons why solutions should be sought for on the demand-side. This thesis discusses the issues of load management through technical load control of households’ electric heating systems and electric water heaters, and through indirect load management with different pricing of electricity.The new Swedish law about monthly accurate billing of electricity for household customers has influenced the electricity network owners to install new automatic meter reading (AMR) systems. Hourly metering can give raise to a new set of data about household electricity use, that can be utilised to provide detailed characteristics of load demand and consumption patterns and serve as a basis for customer segmentation. This information can be useful when developing new energy services, new pricing of electricity, new load management strategies and demand response programs. In this thesis, customer preferences towards feedback on electricity use and different types of billing are investigated and the results from this research can make a contribution to the knowledge of customers’ need and awareness of different kinds of feedback. Conversion of electric heating systems in detached houses to district heating can contribute to solve peak load problems, to lower emissions in the energy system and may constitute a new heat demand needed for new introduction of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants. Effective market strategies are important in order to achieve a high connection rate of household customers to the district-heating grid. Results from two studies in this thesis can contribute to the knowledge of customer preferences, attitudes and decision-making processes that play an important role for the development of more effective marketing strategies for district heating.