The breadth and coverage of analytical expertise in the IEA Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs) are unique assets that underpin IEA efforts to support innovation for energy security, economic growth and environmental protection. The 38 TCPs operating today involve about 6 000 experts from government, industry and research organisations in more than 50 countries1.

Demand-Side Management (DSM TCP)


Enabling demand-side flexibility in smarter power systems 

The DSM TCP focuses on strategies for modifying the demand of energy from end-users using technological solutions, regulatory or financial incentives, and other means of encouraging behavioral change. By reducing or shifting demand according to a power system's needs, investment in power generation and grid capacity can be deferred or avoided, with benefits in both fast-growing economies where much power infrastructure is yet to be built, and in established systems where ageing infrastructure needs to be replaced. 

An informed and motivated consumer is central to successful implementation of smart grids.*

A more responsive demand-side is necessary to provide the flexibility that is needed for integrating higher shares of variable renewable electricity and distributed generation, or for rolling out electric vehicles in a cost-efficient manner.

While significant research is being carried out on the technological platform that could facilitate demand-side flexibility, the degree to which consumers and markets will respond remains a fundamental knowledge gap for innovation in this area.

For these reasons, the DSM TCP set out to identify the risks and rewards to consumers, and to explore the interaction between policies, markets and guidance. Five countries from Europe and Asia participated in the extensive study, which comprised 38 case studies of smart grid pilot programmes or trials, 22 consumer surveys and the analysis of market research of 1 000 households.

Defining the market’s “readiness” was found to be an element of successful programmes, more easily visualised through a market analysis (“map”). A deregulated electricity market, combined with a competitive business environment, efficient value chains and preferential tariff rates were seen to be the optimal conditions. Effective tools to facilitate market readiness included appliance standards, settlement arrangements and billing arrangements or simply supplying households with the meters at little or no cost.

Regarding consumers, simply stating that the benefits (improved autonomy, control, comfort; lower costs; or environmental benefits) outweigh the costs (time, money) did not fully reflect consumers’ views. Other reasons expressed included a lack of understanding of the benefits of smart grids, scepticism as to how the data would be used, the opportunity to choose, and, in some cases, reluctance to make an effort.

Indeed, with smart grid technologies consumers actively participate in how much energy is used, for which applications, and at what times. Enabling choice, providing tangible benefits to the consumers (and the local community), consumer awareness campaigns and financial incentives were found to address these concerns. These and other findings have been synthesised into the final report, The Role of the Demand Side in Delivering Effective Smart Grids

* Graphic adapted from information provided by the DSM TCP, photo courtesy of Linda Hull


  • Behaviour change: theory, policies, practice
  • Business models for energy services
  • Competitive energy services (phase 3)
  • Demand-side management, energy efficiency, distributed generation and renewables (phase3)
  • Effective smart grids
  • Multiple benefits


  IEA member 
Contracting Parties  15  1 -
Sponsors 3 - -

For more information:

1. Information or material of the IEA Technology Collaboration Programmes, or IEA TCPs (formally organised under the auspices of an Implementing Agreement), including information or material published on this website, does not necessarily represent the views or policies of the IEA Secretariat or of the IEA’s individual Member countries. The IEA does not make any representation or warranty (express or implied) in respect of such information (including as to its completeness, accuracy or non-infringement) and shall not be held liable for any use of, or reliance on, such information.