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Realising Smart Grids
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Technology, Department of Engineering Sciences.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Technology, Department of Engineering Sciences.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The smart grid is a popular and well-debated topic in the energy industry

right now. The concept itself has a variety of definitions, both followers and

opponents have their opinions. The smart grid has been a discussed on

both the national and international market. In Sweden, the smart grid has

received increased interest and numerous stakeholders. This applies both

among politicians with organizations such as The Smart Grid Council, but

also at energy producers Vattenfall and giant engineering companies like

ABB. What happens in the future is still uncertain but there is reason to

believe that the Swedish grid is becoming smarter, at least with respect to

all the attention it gets.

The purpose of this paper has been to examine the realization of a smart

grid in Sweden, by examining possible incentives and barriers.

As mentioned, the concept of smart grids is widely debated and relatively

undefined. Therefore the work started by utilizing a definition which had to

be well established, accepted and correlated with the authors' approach

and aim. The chosen definition comes from the European Commission

(2010) and reads:

“A Smart Grid is an electricity network that can cost efficiently integrate the

behaviour and actions of all users connected to it – generators, consumers

and those that do both – in order to ensure economically efficient, sustainable

power system with low losses and high levels of quality and security of supply

and safety”

A theoretical framework was developed in order to obtain facts,

information, and serve as tools for future analyses. For example, the

authors selected The evolution of large technological systems by Thomas

Hughes (1987), which describes large technological systems and how they

develop in society. Further Marx’s ”Das Kapital” (1867) and several earlier

research regarding smart grids were also selected and used for the


Potential stakeholders and key-actors were pointed out and examined to

get a picture of the current situation regarding the smart grid in Sweden.

Three main areas of key-actors were chosen: academia, business, and

political/governmental organizations. Nine qualitative interviews were

conducted with actors who were considered to have good insight and

influence in the area. The collected material and information was analyzed

by the following aspects: financial, technological, sociological, and

environmental. The following results were found through the interviews:

 Almost all interviewed key-actors pointed out the economic factor

as the decisive aspect for a Swedish smart grid realization in

Sweden. At present, it was not considered to be sufficient economic


 It was pointed out that the electricity in Sweden is very cheap and

therefore customers are not interested in paying more for it,

especially not big ones like major industries. The uncertainty about

who will pay for the necessary renovations of the existing power

grid was also pointed out.

 Many of the interviewed actors saw great potential in the political

guidelines and regulations. They considered that more stringent

requirements and rules that favours a smarter and greener

electricity, would lead the development towards a smart grid.

 The technical aspect of a smart grid was not considered to be an

obstacle. On the contrary, most of the technology was considered

already available.

 A summative finding was that the majority of actors did not believe

in a revolution of the smart grid in the near future. They rather saw

it as an evolutionary process that may emerge.

Several findings correlate well with the theoretical framework. For instance, Beise

& Rennings (2004) confirms the importance of political regulations. Their view on

the smart grid as an evolution that will adapt little by little follows the arguments


that Hughes describes. The value-aspect of the smart grid and the fact that is not

considered to be enough today, at least not in an economical way, follows Marx’s

theory of value from 1867. The smart grid development fitted well into Leonard-

Barton’s (1998) aspect of mutual adaption, which points out that both the users

and the technology have to be changed in order to achieve success.

The conclusion was drawn that most of the actors are in favour of a smart grid,

but they did not see that there will be a "smart revolution" in the next few years

given the current financial barriers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
TVE, TVE 16 002 Januari
National Category
Engineering and Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-278959OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-278959DiVA: diva2:907264
Available from: 2016-03-02 Created: 2016-02-26 Last updated: 2016-03-02Bibliographically approved

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