Social acceptability and impact of demand-side flexibility for emission reductions in Germany and Great Britain

Gleue Marvin, Grünewald Philipp, Löschel Andreas, Unterberg Jens

The rapid uptake of renewable energy sources requires new forms of flexibility in electricity systems, including a more responsive demand-side. The social acceptability, scale and economic value of flexible demand remain subjects of conjecture. In this paper we inform this debate with a mixed methods approach using three instruments: surveys, observations and modelling. This multi-method approach brings out similarities and differences between Germany and Great Britain in relation to demandside flexibility. Participants in both countries express a high willingness to participate in time variant tariffs, but their implementation may need to be context specific. In Germany national peak demand occurs at midday, when PV generation results in lower emission factors. Conversely, British peak demand is in the early evening when emission factors are at their highest. The differences in responses allow us to explore important technical and cultural differences affecting the need for flexibility. Germany gains most from flexibility during the daytime in summer, while flexibility in Great Britain contributes most during winter evenings. We observe high degrees of acceptability of time-variant electricity tariffs (55\%) and willingness to shift demand is high, resulting in peak demand reductions of up to 14.5\%. However, the resulting cost and carbon savings of these efforts is less than 2\% in both countries. We conclude that short term carbon or cost savings may be less powerful motivators for load shifting measures than long term system decarbonisation.

Demand Side Response; Flexible energy demand; Carbon emissions; Social; acceptability; Energy policy

Publication type
Forschungsartikel (Zeitschrift)

Peer reviewed

Publication status
accepted / in press (not yet published)


Energy Research & Social Science