Platforms in Power: Householder Perspectives on the Social, Environmental and Economic Challenges of Energy Platforms

Smale, R.; Kloppenburg, S.


New business models and digital infrastructures, in the form of ‘energy platforms’, are emerging as part of a transition towards decarbonised, decentralised, and digitised energy systems. These energy platforms offer new ways for householders to trade or exchange energy with other households or with energy system actors, but also bring along challenges. This paper examines how householders engage with potential environmental, social, and economic opportunities and risks of energy platforms. We convened two serious-game style workshops in which Dutch frontrunner householders assumed the role of platform members and were challenged to deliberate about different scenarios and issues. The workshop results, while explorative in nature, are indicative of a willingness to pursue energy system integration rather than autarky or grid defection. The idea of energy platforms as vehicles for energy justice appealed less to the householders, although the participants were moderately interested in sharing surplus renewable energy. Finally, environmental motivations were of key importance in householders’ evaluation of different platform types. This shows that in the role of energy platform members, householders can engage with both the community and the grid in new and different ways, leading to a diversity of possible outcomes for householder engagement.