Visualizing Energy Use in Smart Grids - Developing a User Display for the Dynamic Microgrid Tariff
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Increasing demands for energy in Norwegian households are stretching the capacity of theelectrical grid to its limits. To avoid having to expand the electrical grid, peak loads mustbe reduced, and power companies are dependent on energy consumers to distribute theirenergy use more evenly throughout the day. Smart Meters are to be installed in every Norwegianhousehold within January 1st, 2019, and can help provide customers with the informationand control needed in order to achieve peak reductions.Demo Steinkjer is a national project testing new solutions for energy usage, and is currentlyrunning a project testing a tariff which focuses on increasing electricity prices when the gridis heavily loaded. They plan to use a tablet display to inform users about consumption andpricing. However, it is not determined what kind of, and how, this information should becommunicated.This thesis explores how such a display tool should be developed in terms of context of use,user requirements, and design. Based on findings obtained from literature reviews, a surveyand a focus group, a prototype has been developed and tested on potential users. The researchhas been carried out following theDesign and Creation strategy andHuman-centereddesign for interactive systems.The research showed that a majority of our participants to a little extent reflect upon theirenergy consumption. However, many expressed a willingness to adapt their energy consumptionaccording to information given to them. In order to take action, users should beprovided with concise information, and a visualization of energy consumption should focuson readability rather than detail in data. Test participants found the display tool useful forhandling the tariff and gaining better control of their energy consumption and costs. Appliancecontrol, preferably automatic, was considered themost interesting and useful feature.A display tool should cover the needs of its potential users, and not simply force them intosolving the needs of the power companies. Users show willingness to change behavior andadopt new technology, but only if they are providedwith the appropriate tools that help themachieve their goals in their everyday lives.