Participatory Design For Community Energy

Designing the Renewable Energy Commons

September 25, 2018
Versione stampabile

Time: h 11:00 am
Location: Room Ofek, Polo Ferrari 1 - Via Sommarive 5, Povo (TN)  

PhD Candidate

  • Andrea Capaccioli

Abstract of Dissertation

The energy sector is facing a major paradigm shift from centralised production and management to distributed energy generation and management. Digital technologies play a crucial role in enabling such scenario; emphasis and attention has been given to Smart Grids and new energy management systems both for final users and companies. Energy, its consumption, and its production are at the centre of our everyday lives and are connected to everyday practices and habits. However, while this scenario can be seen as mundane, new spaces can be created for citizens and communities to participate and be empowered. This thesis presents the work done by the author within a three-years European Project used as his main research field. The focal points were: (i) the participatory design process of a community energy digital platform; and (ii) the advantages and disadvantages of a commons based approach to renewable energy management on the development and empowerment of local communities. First will be presented how a participatory design process opens a new space for citizen participation to design as an alternative energy management model. Then will be presented the energy budgeting framework designed within this process, discussing how social acceptance of technology affected the design and how energy has been translated to a new kind of value within this framework. Afterwards, it will be discussed how the participatory process and the framework contributed to the construction-in-practice of energy justice, and how this process reconfigured the relationships among civil society, the energy sector, and politics. Finally, the whole three years project experience will be analysed retrospectively using the interaction spaces framework, highlighting how participatory configurations evolved over time and how cross-participation is crucial for the boundary-spanning of design issues. Therefore, concluding reflections will be drawn based on this content, they will consider lessons learned, limitations of the experience and possible future work to continue explore the relationship between energy, digital technologies and participatory design.