Fostering active network management through SMEs’ practises

Gareth Powells, Sandra Bell, Ellis P. Judson, Stephen M. Lyon, Robin Wardle, Klara Anna Capova, Harriet Bulkeley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Managing the electricity network through ‘smart grid’ systems is a key strategy to address challenges of energy security, low carbon transitions and the replacement of ageing infrastructure networks in the UK. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have a significant role in shaping patterns of energy consumption. Understanding how their activities interrelate with changes in electricity systems is critical for active network management. A significant challenge for the transformation of electricity systems involves comprehending the complexity that stems from the variety of commercial activities and diversity of social and organizational practises among SMEs that interact with material infrastructures. We engage with SMEs to consider how smart grid interventions ‘fit’ into everyday operational activities. Drawing on analysis of empirical data on electricity use, smart metre data, surveys, interviews and ‘energy tours’ with SMEs to understand lighting, space heating and cooling, refrigeration and IT use, this paper argues for experimenting with the use of practise theory as a framework for bringing together technical and social aspects of energy use in SMEs. This approach reveals that material circumstances and temporal factors shape current energy demand among SMEs, with ‘connectedness’ an emergent factor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-604
Number of pages14
JournalEnergy Efficiency
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Network management
  • Practise Theory
  • SMEs
  • Smart grid
  • UK


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