Fostering active network management through SMEs’ practises

Document Type



Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, London; Faculty of Arts and Sciences


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 inelectricitysystems 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 organizationalpractisesamong SMEs that interact with material infrastructures. We engage with SMEs to consider how smart grid interventions ‘fit’ into everyday operational activities. Drawing onanalysisof empirical data on electricity use, smartmetredata, surveys, interviews and ‘energy tours’ with SMEs to understand lighting, space heating and cooling,refrigeration andIT use, this paper argues for experimenting with the use ofpractisetheory 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’ anemergentfactor.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Energy Efficiency