User-Related Issues in Design and Use of Smartgrids Seen as Complex Sociotechnical Systems: Example of the VERTPOM Project

  •  Emilie Loup-Escande    
  •  Sophie Capo    
  •  Helios Raharison    


The impact of human activities on the environment is no longer to be demonstrated today and concerns many fields. With a view to environmental protection, applied to global warming limitation and fossil fuels preservation, Smartgrids are currently emerging, especially, under the impetus of European and French legislation. In emerging technologies, end-user-related issues, articulated with the design process, continue to raise conceptual, methodological and operational questions. The perspective of complex sociotechnical systems is useful for Smartgrids and to underline the necessary multidisciplinary approach to design. Yet raised for decades, the articulation of multidisciplinary approaches in the design of complex systems still questions fundamental problems today. These questions are all more unresolved in the context of innovative technologies such as Smartgrids. The objective of this paper is to propose 1) a conceptual reflection applied to the design of these Smartgrids seen as emerging sociotechnical systems, and 2) a case study by illustrating with the VERTPOM project. On the one hand, we discuss four fundamental points in user-centered design of Smartgrids: we describe the legislative impulses for the rollout of smart metters and the emergence of Smartgrids, we highlight the supplier/consumer synergy that is essential for efficient energy management, we explain the importance of adapting systems to the wide public in domestic, professional and public situations in the context of consumer control of energy demand, and we address the issue of the more traditional field of supervision and control of complex dynamic processes by operators. On the other hand, we present the VERTPOM project aiming at developing a set of digital tools for energy management and energy efficiency in order to make a positive energy territory that produces more energy than it consumes by introducing the project and its actors and explaining how design acceptable Smartgrids for consumers and operators of energy suppliers.

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