In the current renewable energy transition, the demand side is playing a key role in the balancing of power generation with demand. Due to the fluctuating and unreliable nature of sun and wind, the need is for flexible energy consumers who can adjust their consumption patterns accordingly, which means continuously and close to real-time.
The aim of the iFLEX project is to empower energy consumers by making it as easy as possible for them to participate in demand response programs, in which they adjust their energy consumption in response to signals or incentives coming from energy actors, such as price signals or bonuses.
To support the consumer in managing when and how to be flexible, the project is developing an intelligent personal assistant, called the iFLEX Assistant. The assistant is a software agent which handles all the complexity of the system interactions, and which optimises the comfort, energy cost and environmental footprint on behalf of the consumer and according to consumer wishes. While the consumer has full control of the flexibility, the operation can be fully automated so that the consumer does not have to do anything on a daily basis.
Since the consumer is a determining factor in the creation of sustainable demand response, the project applies a user-centred approach, engaging the consumer in the design of the flexibility management service with special focus on the user experience, covering not only usability aspects but also analysing the motivational drivers and barriers.