As the energy transition progresses, energy storage becomes increasingly important for safeguarding a reliable energy provision. At the same time, energy storage systems are used to increase the self-consumption of decentralised generation and are expected to result in lower electricity bills for the energy prosumers. Drawing on sustainability transitions and management literature, this contribution focuses on a neighbourhood battery with the aim to explore to what extent a collaboration between a network operator and renewable energy initiatives on local energy storage could help increase the impact of the latter in the energy transition. The concept of a neighbourhood battery involves strategic decisions, and perhaps a strategic innovation, whose transformative potential depends to a large extent on the perceptions and actions of those involved. This paper explores the opportunities and constraints for a collaborative business model for the neighbourhood battery in the Netherlands, as well as the challenges and tensions that emerge for the main parties involved. The perspectives of the network operator were compared with those of renewable energy initiatives in the country, including the Energy Service Company involved in the pilot and, in parts, with the perspectives of the involved end-users. This contribution registers a misalignment of interests and expectations which complicates the deployment of the neighbourhood battery concept. Recognizing the critical role of network operators, the conditions that may enable the emergence of collaborative business models for local energy storage are also discussed.
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We would like to thank all practitioners that supported us in the course of this research; the first author would like to express her gratitude especially to Jan Willem Eising and Hans Beckers for their support during her placement at Alliander. We are also grateful to the reviewers of this journal for their valuable feedback that helped improve this paper. This work has been supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) under the research programme “TRAPESES” (2014–2018); grant number 408-13-029 .
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