Nowadays, information and communication technologies empower individuals’ communication, but are far from exploiting all their collavorative potential. Despite the recent surge of interest in technologies to help individuals collaborate, such as crowdsourcing, they are still in its infancy. And yet, such technologies are core to enable future smart infrastructures for the citizens. Indeed, participation and social innovation are at the heart of the development of emerging infrastructures such as the smart city or the smart grid, which require intensive collaboration within collectives. Here we focus on microgids, localized groupings of electricity resources and loads, which can function autonomously. We target novel technologies that empower human collectives to operate micro-grids to achieve sustainable energy management by supporting their self-awareness, cooperation, and self-governance.
We argue that collaboration in micro-grids can be articulated either through market-based energy allocation mechanisms aimed at supporting local trading, or by means of norm-based mechanisms agreed upon by a micro-grid community’s prosumers (those that consume and produce energy).
On the one hand, we will introduce a novel peer-to-peer market to allow prosumers to individually trade electricity over a micro-grid while satisfying grid transmission constraints. This market will favour the decentralized generation of renewable energy and the reduction of inefficiencies in current centralized model of production and transmission (in terms of CO2 reduction). Energy allocation will be based on fixed market rules aimed at cost reduction and it relies on cooperation of prosumers to relay energy from one to another.
On the other hand, we will introduce a novel social computing approach to allow a community’s prosumers to agree on the rules to employ to allocate energy. Unlike our market-based approach, this social approch will be driven by consensus, hence fostering community engagement, social cohesion, and a more democratic energy system. Our purpose is that prosumers decide themselves what they consider as fair energy allocation rules. Rephrasing Nobel-prize winner E. Ostrom, involving a community’s participants in their decisions improves its long term operation, particularly when resources are limited. Thus, Ostrom’s principles are expected to ease energy sustainability along time. Furthermore, we will exploit location-based social networks to assess whether a community values the rules of current allocation system or if some changes are required.
Complementarily, we will also apply gamification techniques to educate community prosumers so that they learn efficient energy management practices. Our assumption is that responsible prosumers are expected to better manage energy, and thus help achieve larger CO2 reductions.
Upon the proposal of our allocation approaches, we will analyse them empirically with both synthetic data and with humans in controlled lab scenarios. We will also quantify the potential benefits of gamification to yield more efficient user energy profiles.
This project tackles the “Economía y Sociedad digital” and “Energía segura, eficiente y limpia” challenges. Overall, we expect our project to have socio-economic impact by providing new ways to organize the energy system driven by a sense of community and local ownership. Sustainability will be rooted in education, cooperation and social innovation.