Realizing the full potential of a smart grid is contingent on the residential users’ acceptance of new technologies and the behavioural changes that will follow their implementation. Thus, the present research attempted to gain an insight into the factors that drive residential electricity consumers, particularly those with low income, towards or away from demand side management and distributed energy resources. The results of a consumer survey of 207 Japanese households revealed that there is a clear correlation between low-household income and the willingness of the respondents to reduce their energy expenditures. In contrast, the fear of the perceived additional cost required to implement these technologies, and the belief that consumers have inadequate information or support from the utility company, prevents them from adopting new technologies. Further, the results of a comparative analysis indicate that the reputation of the utility company is higher among smart grid users than traditional electricity consumers. The K-means clustering algorithm and hierarchical cluster analysis indicated that younger and poorer members of the society faced more barriers than middle age wealthier groups. The authors maintain that the electricity utilities thus need to develop a range of measures to engage residential consumers with heterogeneous socio-economic characteristics.
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