The "four Ds" and support for Local Smart Grids : analysis from national surveys in the UK and Canada

Walker, Chad and Rowlands, Ian H. and Devine-Wright, Patrick and Soutar, Iain and Wilson, Charlie and Gupta, Rajat and Devine-Wright, Hannah and Bishwokarma, Juli and Ford, Rebecca (2024) The "four Ds" and support for Local Smart Grids : analysis from national surveys in the UK and Canada. Oxford Open Energy, 3. oiae004. ISSN 2752-5082 (

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Local Smart Grids are emerging during the climate crisis, as governments and industry recognize the need to better integrate intermittent renewable energy, storage, transportation, heating, and smart technologies. Such projects can represent profound changes to the status quo of energy and citizen lifestyles. They are also being associated with the “four Ds,” whereby Local Smart Grids are decarbonizing, decentralizing, digitalizing, and potentially democratizing energy systems. Yet, due to their recent arrival, there is very little social scientific research that has aimed to better understand public views, expectations, and support for this change. We attempt to fill this important gap in the literature through the analysis of two nationally representative surveys in the UK (n = 3034) and Canada (n = 941). This analysis highlights within- and between-country trends, including how the variation in responses regarding the “four Ds,” demographic factors, and other variables may explain the differences we see in terms of support for energy system change in the UK and Canada. Our analysis also shows that there are common elements, including the importance of the decentralization, and especially the democratization of energy in shaping support. We hope that this study will help governments, industry, community groups, and local residents themselves in both countries come together to advance the kind of Local Smart Grids that address climate change and represent a supported, just energy transition.