A comparative study of smart grid solutions in Austria, Norway and Denmark

Smart grid technologies are entering a new phase of development. Following initial field experiments in Europe, we are now faced with the question: How can smart grids be put to wider use? On the basis of successful case studies in Austria, Norway and Denmark, the MATCH project investigated the experience gained so far in pilot projects in Austria, Norway and Denmark and made recommendations for further development in Europe.

Our need for energy grows steadily. Renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind are becoming ever more important. Electric infrastructures such as the grid are replacing some of their centrally controlled features with more decentralised ones, thus becoming more flexible, responsive and ‘intelligent’. The MATCH project aimed to identify the necessary changes to ensure efficient and effective implementation of smart grid solutions for small consumers.

The project asks questions such as: Which solutions have already been locally tested and proven effective? How does energy pricing influence the use of alternatives? Is smart grid electricity cost-efficient? What systemic and interaction effects may arise and how do they influence objectives such as affordability, access, reliability and flexibility? What unfavourable outcomes do smart grid technologies show? How can data security and privacy be ensured?

To address these important questions, nine comprehensive case studies were conducted in smart grid demonstration projects in the participating partner regions in Austria, Norway and Denmark. Stakeholder workshops were held to share experiences and the systemic effects of the selected smart grid solutions were investigated using modelling techniques. The project team was composed of researchers, energy supply firms and local energy initiatives.

Previous research has led us to assume that effective solutions are the result of the interactions between regional and national features of already existing energy systems. For example, countries differ in their energy market structures and wider infrastructures. More specifically, the energy mix and the distribution systems can be as important in shaping the direction of energy systems change as the relationships between the actors involved (such as funders, users and suppliers).

Key findings from the MATCH project are:

  • Smart energy solutions work because they are designed as socio-technical systems from early on. The successful implementation of new solutions depends to a large extent on a well-designed interplay of social and technical elements.
  • Smart energy projects need to support processes of local anchoring in order to promote solutions with a high level of local legitimacy and to make local resources and actors become an active part in the energy transition.
  • Technology users play a multifaceted and decisive role. It is important to ensure diversity of different user roles and their associated perspectives, interests and requirements from early on.
  • Solutions that work well locally do not necessarily have a significant (positive) impact from the point of view of the entire energy system. Hence, it is important to examine the various systemic effects of locally successful solutions for existing energy systems (regional, national) before replicating or up-scaling them.




  • Riedlinger, D. (2020). Wer kontrolliert die Energie?. Ita-Newsfeed. Retrieved from https://www.oeaw.ac.at/ita/detail/news/wer-kontrolliert-die-energie
  • Ornetzeder, M., & Sinozic, T. (2020). Sector coupling of renewable energy in an experimental setting. Findings from a smart energy pilot project in Austria. Tatup - Zeitschrift Für Technikfolgenabschätzung In Theorie Und Praxis, 29, 38-44. doi:10.14512/tatup.29.2.38
  • Christensen, T. H., Friis, F., Bettin, S., Throndsen, W., Ornetzeder, M., Skjølsvold, T. M., & Ryghaug, M. (2020). The role of competences, engagement, and devices in configuring the impact of prices in energy demand response: Findings from three smart energy pilots with households. Energy Policy, 35, 11. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2019.111142
  • Ryghaug, M., Ornetzeder, M., Skjølsvold, T. M., & Throndsen, W. (2019). The Role of Experiments and Demonstration Projects in Efforts of Upscaling: An Analysis of Two Projects Attempting to Reconfigure Production and Consumption in Energy and Mobility. Sustainability, 2019, 5771. doi:10.3390/su11205771
  • ITA [Hrsg.],. (2019). Smart grid pilot projects in Europe. ITA-Dossier no. 42en (April 2019; Author: Michael Ornetzeder). Wien. doi:10.1553/ita-doss-042en
  • ITA [Hrsg.],. (2019). Smart-Grid-Pilotprojekte in Europa. ITA-Dossier Nr. 42 (März 2019; Autor: Michael Ornetzeder). Wien. doi:10.1553/ita-doss-042
  • Christensen, T. H., Marczinkowski, H. M., Skjølsvold, T. M., Throndsen, W., Ornetzeder, M., & Bettin, S. (2019). MATCH: Markets, Actors and Technologies –A comparative study of smart grid solutions - Executive summary. Vienna. Retrieved from https://www.match-project.eu/digitalAssets/478/478271_match_executive-summary.pdf
  • Ornetzeder, M., Bettin, S., Gutting, A., Christensen, T. H. &, Friis, F., Skjølsvold, T. M., et al. (2018). Determining factors for integrated smart grid solutions. Project MATCH: Markets – Actors – Technologies. Vienna. Retrieved from https://www.match-project.eu/digitalAssets/438/438337_match_d3.1_v2.pdf
  • Ornetzeder, M., Bettin, S., Haunstrup, T. C., Friis, F., Marczinkowski, H. M., Skjølsvold, T. M., et al. (2018). Recommendations for researchers, designers and system planners Version 2.0 31. Oct. 2018 (p. 15). Retrieved from https://www.match-project.eu/digitalAssets/438/438368_match_d5.1_v2-1.pdf
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Conference Papers/Speeches

Conference Papers/Speeches

  • 07/05/2019 , Graz
    Michael Ornetzeder: 
    User Innovators in the energy transition
    18th Annual STS Conference - Critical Issues in Science, Technology and Society Studies
  • 19/09/2018 , Klagenfurt
    Michael Ornetzeder: 
    Towards a new framework for studying socio-technical implications of energy transitions
    2nd STS Austria Conference – Innovation and Societal Transformation: Science, Democracy, and Sustainable Futures
  • 03/09/2018 , Exeter
    Michael Ornetzeder: 
    User and community involvement in the integration of renewables in a local energy distribution network
    4th Energy and Society Conference – Energy transitions in a divided world
  • 25/07/2018 , Lancaster
    Michael Ornetzeder: 
    Mainstreaming energy efficient buildings in Austria
    EASST 2018 Conference – Making science, technology and society together
  • 08/05/2018 , Graz
    Michael Ornetzeder: 
    Lessons from the first e-mobility fleet in Austria
    17th Annual STS Conference 2018 – Critical Issues in Science, Technology and Society Studies
  • 08/05/2018 , Graz
    Leo Capari: 
    Back to the future – A scenario-backcasting case study
    17th Annual STS Conference 2018 – Critical Issues in Science, Technology and Society Studies
  • 20/11/2017 , Wien
    Michael Ornetzeder: 
    Energieautonome Praktiken aus soziologischer Perspektive
    Workshop Energieautonome Praktiken zwischen flexiblen NutzerInnen, „Usability“ und dem mündigen Bürger
  • 14/11/2017 , Linköping
    Michael Ornetzeder: 
    Do we need a new research framework to understand socio-technical implications of energy transitions?
    Seminar Tema T
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02/2016 - 07/2018

Project team