Technology Collaboration Programme

Social License to Automate 1.0

Social License
to Automate


The Social License to Automate Task investigates the social dimensions of user engagement with automated technologies in energy systems to understand how end-user trust to automate is built and maintained in different jurisdictions and cultural settings.


Who would you trust to control your air conditioner, battery or washing machine? This question is becoming increasingly important as grid operators and aggregation firms trial automation projects to participate in markets, stabilise electricity delivering during peak periods and build flexibility in power grids increasingly characterised by distributed sites of generation, storage and consumption. Automation technologies facilitate load shifting and shaving in peak demand periods through direct load control and pre-programming of appliances in the home. Their automated character ultimately requires trust in organisations.


As policy and market drivers of decarbonisation accelerate the uptake of distributed energy resources, the need for rapid electricity system responsiveness to the variability of wind and solar supply and variable demand increases. Leveraging the full capacity of this growing, but highly distributed resource requires real-time automated access to the energy sources situated within residential and small-scale commercial systems. Without automation, demand side management is unlikely to provide the electricity system with the fast-acting response needed to manage changing network and system requirements.


The Task seeks to understand the dynamics of trust and related social dimensions which determine user engagement with automation technologies in demand side management.


By building and sharing knowledge through case study analysis and expert collaboration across the participating countries, the Task constitutes a platform for reflective, cutting-edge interdisciplinary research and stakeholder engagement on how trust is built and maintained between different energy users and suppliers.


The Task will identify what is required to build and maintain the ‘social licence’ – which includes user understanding, acceptance and trust – essential to the success of automation technologies for demand side management.


Social License to Automate 2.0: November 2022 to November 2024
Austria, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland

Social License to Automate 1.0: 25 October 2019 – 25 October 2021
Austria, Australia, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland


Researcher Profiles


Marianne Ryghaug holds a PhD in Political Science and is full Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, where she leads the research group on Energy, Climate and Environment.  She has been engaged in energy and transport related research since 1999 and has published widely on these topics. In the last years her research has particularly been focused on public participation in sustainability transitions, the role of innovation and digitalization for just transformation of societies. Ryghaug has a long track record of nationally and internationally funded energy and transport related projects. She led the expert working group on transport and mobility in the Energy-SHIFTS Forum (2019-2021) funded by H2020.

Ida Marie Henriksen holds a PhD in Sociology (social interaction/urban sociology) from NTNU. She is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture Energy, Environment and Climate research group led by Professor Ryghaug.


Zofia Lukszo is a Professor in the Energy and Industry group in the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management (TPM) at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. Her research concentrates on a wide range of problems in the way complex socio-technical systems are functioning today and can be (re-)shaped for the sustainable future.

Rishabh Ghotge studied Mechanical Engineering at the Manipal Institute of Technology, India. Wanting to be part of the global energy transition, he pursued a Masters in Renewable Energy at the University of Oldenburg in Germany, later specializing in solar photovoltaics at Northumbria University, UK. He was at the Solar Energy Application Centre in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, helping design and analyze solar charging stations for charging electric bikes. He is currently a Doctoral candidate at the Delft University of Technology, working on various aspects of integrating electric mobility (both battery and fuel cell based) in energy systems with high shares of solar energy.


Selin Yilmaz is a senior researcher and a teaching fellow in the Chair for Energy Efficiency at University of Geneva. The focus of her research at University of Geneva is on scenario modelling related to electricity consumption in buildings, including disaggregation of load curves in geographical terms, by sector and by usage.

Christian Winzer is a lecturer in economics at the ZHAW. He has been working on issues relating to market design for electricity markets since his doctorate at the University of Cambridge in 2012. Before joining the ZHAW, Dr. Winzer worked for several years as a policy and market analyst for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (UK), the German Institute for Economic Research (DE), the European Power Service of IHS Markit (FR), and Swissgrid (CH).

Julien L. Michellod joined the Annex in October 2020 as a Masters Student in Environmental Sciences at the University of Geneva, specializing in multidisciplinary energy studies. He holds a bachelor’s degree in the Engineering of Renewables Energies at the HES-SO in Switzerland, and has electron microscopy work experience at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne. He is currently writing his Masters Thesis about social license to automate demand-side management. Julien will be working with Dr. Yilmaz, who has led contributions to the Annex in Western Switzerland.


The Austrian Institute of Technology team consists of Tara Esterl, Lisa Diamond, Regina Hemm and Peter Fröhlich.

Lisa Diamond holds a master’s degree in psychology and her research interests focus on the promotion of sustainable behavior with the help of technology in a variety of contexts including the energy and circular economy. Her current work explores user requirements, experience and engagement as well as acceptance and trust promotion in the context of smart and automated technologies such as smart grid applications and automated driving, and user requirements with regards to data privacy and security. Lisa has a special interest in collective engagement approaches.

Regina Hemm has a background in physics  and is part of the “Integrated Energy Systems” Unit at AIT, where she works on projects developing flexibility in different electricity markets. Ms Hemm’s work includes the mathematical modelling, simulation and optimization of the distributed energy resources.


Associate Professor Cecilia Katzeff is leading engagement with Swedish energy users in a joint project with distribution company, Ellevio. A/Prof Katzeff is Associate professor in Human-Computer Interaction at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden. Her research is a human oriented approach towards the design of digital interaction between people, their environment and various artefacts.


Declan Kuch is a Sociologist and Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow at Western Sydney University and Visiting Research Fellow at UNSW. He’s worked extensively on public engagement with emerging technologies across energy, climate and the life sciences.

Sophie Adams is a human geography and Science and Technology Studies scholar, and currently a Research Fellow at the University of New South Wales.  Her research is on adaptation to the impacts of climate change and the social dimensions of the transition to renewable energy.


Events and Media


Final report launch webinar


Australian UsersTCP Social Science Workshop (Invitation Only), 3-4 December 2020.

Seminar presentation – ANU Battery Grid Storage Integration Project Willing to Participate in VPP – user report 1 December 2020

Monash Energy Institute webinar on Participation (or not) in automated energy systems, 19 November 2020. Full session on Youtube here

Conference presentation, MoneyLabX Economythologies, 6 November, Canberra, Australia, ‘Thinking Energy As Money’

EASST/4S August 2020 session ‘Socialising the automation of flexible residential energy use’ A conference session report by Sophie Adams, University of New South Wales; Line Kryger Aargaard, Aalborg University; Ingvild Firman Fjellså, Norwegian University of Science and Technology; Ida Marie Henriksen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology; Declan Kuch, Western Sydney University; Sophie Nyborg, Technical University of Denmark; Marianne Ryghaug, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Joint Social Science Researcher submission to Australia’s Technology Investment Roadmap paper Authors: Sophie Adams, University of New South Wales; Sangeetha Chandra-Shekeran, Melbourne University; Rebecca Colvin, Australian National University; Kari Dahlgren, Monash University; Adrian Ford, Melbourne University; Declan Kuch, Western Sydney University; University of New South Wales; Hedda Ransan-Cooper, Australian National University ; Yolande Strengers, Monash University; Hugo Temby, Australian National University; Phillipa Watson, University of Tasmania; Lee White, Australian National University

Conference presentation ‘Insights from the social sciences to understand the customer’s engagement with variable pricing and the prospects for the automation of demand’ at St Gallen Forum for Management of Renewable Energies, St Gallen, Switzerland, September 10-11, 2020

Conference panel, ‘Socialising the automation of flexible residential energy use’ at the Social Studies of Science Society/European Association for the Study of Science and Technology’ Virtual Conference, 18 August 2020. (See report in publications tab)

Conference presentation introducing the Annex at Symposium Energieinnovation, Graz, Austria,12-14 February 2020



UsersTCP Workshop at the Asia-Pacific Solar Research Conference, December 2019, Canberra, Australia. Citizens of which country claim to trust their energy providers most and why? What are the most successful business models for distributed energy provision? Dr Declan Kuch and A/Prof Iain MacGill address these questions and many more to introduce the newly relaunched User-Centred Energy Systems Technology Collaboration Programme (UsersTCP), outlining the Annexes Australia is involved with and leading. The mission of the UsersTCP is to provide evidence from socio-technical research on the design, social acceptance and usability of clean energy technologies to inform policy making for clean, efficient and secure energy transitions.

‘Homing in on the keys to DER integration’, PV Magazine Australia – Natalie Filatoff reports on the relaunch of the User-Centred Energy Systems Technology Collaboration Programme (UsersTCP) at the All Energy conference in Melbourne, Australia in October 2019, and the remit of the new Annex ‘Social Licence to Automate’.



Adams, S., Kuch, D., Diamond, L., Fröhlich, P., Henriksen, I. M., Katzeff, C., … & Yilmaz, S. (2021). Social license to automate: A critical review of emerging approaches to electricity demand management. Energy Research & Social Science, 80, 102210. (preprint)