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An Empirical Approach to Differences in Flexible Electricity Consumption Behaviour of Urban and Rural Populations— Lessons Learned in Germany 

Written by Lucas Roth, Özgür Yildiz, Jens Lowitzsch.
The article was published in Sustainability, August 2021, 13, 9028.


This article analyses two major trends of the 21st century. Firstly, the transition from fossil fuel-based energy production to renewable energy sources. Secondly, the inexorable urbanisation which can be witnessed all over the globe. The most promising renewable energy production technologies for the near future, i.e., wind and solar energy, are volatile by nature which makes matching supply and demand essential for a successful transition. Therefore, the aspects that determine the willingness of consumers to flexibilise their demand has gained growing attention. Initial research shows that different settings for (co-)ownership in terms of available prosumption options and used production technologies have a varying impact on demand flexibility. However, existing research has analysed flexibility drivers solely for the general population as an aggregate without any distinction regarding spatial, economic, or social factors. In this article, the authors go one step further and analyse whether those drivers for flexible consumption behaviour differ in rural or urban areas acknowledging differences in day-to-day life in both cases. This study is based on 2074 completed questionnaires from German consumers which were analysed using propensity score matching. The results show that people from rural and urban areas do not significantly differ in their willingness to be demand flexible in general. However, (co-)owners of RE installations from rural areas are generally significantly more demand flexible than (co-)owners of RE installations from urban areas. Further, when looking at different RE technologies, the results show that (co-)owners of solar installations are significantly more demand flexible if they are from rural areas. Lastly, when looking at usage options, people who solely consume produced electricity are more demand flexible if they are from rural areas as well.

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