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The diffusion of smart meters in France: A discussion of the empirical evidence and the implications for smart cities

Adnane Kendel (GREDEG (UMR 7321), CNRS, University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis, Nice, France)
Nathalie Lazaric (GREDEG (UMR 7321), CNRS, University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis, Nice, France)

Journal of Strategy and Management

ISSN: 1755-425X

Article publication date: 17 August 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to study business models (BMs) for smart meters (SMs) and discuss related issues in the French institutional context. Because SM introduce deregulation on both the demand and supply sides, the authors argue that they represent an opportunity to “unlock” the system by enabling feedback to consumers. The authors discuss the empirical findings from the TICELEC (Technologies de l’Information pour une Consommation Electrique – Information Technology for Sustainable Electricity Consumption Behaviors) project which is an experimental initiative to measure potential energy savings through the implementation of SM, and to test behavioral change.

Design/methodology/approach

The empirical data are from the TICELEC project and refer to a municipality in southern France. The project was designed to show the qualitative changes deriving from a new technology, and the quantitative changes in the form of real reductions in residential electricity consumption in the short and medium terms. The authors discuss these changes and their potential replication, and examine the nature of the feedback provided to users and the implications for SM BMs for France and for smart cities more generally.

Findings

The authors suggest that the opportunities provided by SM have to be compared with other kinds of intervention such as self-monitoring procedures. The results show that any intervention is important for moderating the sole impact of SM. The findings on the importance of changes to “energy habits” relate mainly to “curtailment” and “low efficiency” behaviors, which represent less costly changes. The lessons learned for BM developments linked to SM include incentive systems, smart tariffs, and technologies to increase potential behavior changes and energy savings in this field.

Research limitations/implications

The authors’ analysis of the content of behavioral change shows that curtailment behavior and low-efficiency behavior remain dominant when SMs are implemented. Promoting high-efficiency behaviors is always difficult for reasons of cost. Thus, SM should be combined with other measures such as incentives systems, e.g. “smart tariffication,” and new services to increase their impact.

Practical implications

A proper combination of smart tariffs and SMs to reduce peaks in demand would appear to be critical to boost SM development. It will also be important to integrate SMs with smart grids to improve energy efficiency and exploit renewables and energy storage in electricity networks.

Social implications

SMs are important but any interventions that motivate households to change their energy habits also help in the French context. SMs enable households to try to reduce their energy consumption but they are not the solution.

Originality/value

There are no detailed results published for France. Utilities such as Electricite Reseau Distribution France, have introduced R & D programs oriented to the deployment of SM which have been tested since 2009 (e.g. see the local LINKY meter projects in Lyon and Touraine). The empirical data are from the TICELEC project and refer to a municipality in southern France. The project was designed to show the qualitative changes deriving from a new technology, and the quantitative changes in the form of real reductions in residential electricity consumption in the short and medium terms. The authors discuss these changes and their potential replication, and examine the nature of the feedback provided to users and the implications for SM BMs for France and for smart cities more generally.

Keywords

Citation

Kendel, A. and Lazaric, N. (2015), "The diffusion of smart meters in France: A discussion of the empirical evidence and the implications for smart cities", Journal of Strategy and Management, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 231-244. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSMA-04-2015-0034

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited