What is prosumerism for? Exploring the normative dimensions of decentralised energy transitions


Energy systems are in transformation towards increasingly renewable, decentralised, demand responsive and smart configurations. This has led to advocacy of the ‘prosumer’ phenomenon: characterised by actors who both consume and produce renewable energy. In parallel a range of prosumer business models are emerging, governed by a range of market, municipal and community actors. Through a series of semi-structured interviews, focus groups and documentary analysis - centred on a case study of Bristol in the UK - this paper critically evaluates the normative dimensions of prosumer business models, modes of governance and understandings of value. We discuss how competing ‘value logics’ are present within imagined futures of prosumerism, and through a novel conceptual framework, how these modes of governance may lead to divergent material outcomes in a decentralised energy transition. We argue that a more explicit recognition of competing theories of value, agency and change is needed in future discussions of prosumerism.

Publication date: March 2020

Author: Donal Brown, Stephen Hall, Mark E .Davis

Language: English