Tracing Local Energy Markets: A Literature Review
1st Esther Mengelkamp, 2nd Julius Diesing, 3rd Christof Weinhardt
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
Abstract—We conduct a structured literature review on
the concept of local electricity markets (LEMs). Local
energy markets have gained increasing attention in the
last two decades. Yet, a holistic, common deﬁnition and
clear demarcation of LEMs to microgrid electricity mar-
kets and peer-to-peer trading is still missing in research
literature. The literature review shows current works to
shift their focus from conceptual implementation and
design approaches to increasingly realistic and practical
applications of electricity trading. Recent work puts more
emphasis on the community approach of electricity trading
of prosumers and consumers. Current research gaps of
the inclusion of network constraints, integrated energy
systems, agent-centric LEM designs, and a holistic compar-
ison of market mechanisms are identiﬁed by the literature
Index Terms—Local energy market, review, microgrid energy
market, peer-to-peer trading, energy sharing, energy community.
With the increasing share of renewable and thus (mostly)
volatile distributed generation worldwide, small-scale energy
producers, prosumers and energy-afﬁne consumers become
more and more involved in the overall energy system .
These small-scale actors were formerly excluded from the
energy market, as legislative restrictions about generation size
and legal stipulations prohibited them from actively taking part
in the bidding process. Local electricity markets (LEMs) solve
this issue by providing a local market platform to residential
actors within a community , . They empower small-
scale electricity producers, prosumers, and consumers and
offer economic, ecologic and social incentives for creating
local electricity balances . Yet, deﬁnitions of LEMs, their
concepts and market mechanisms are mostly case-driven in-
stead of holistic. To organize the existing LEM research, we
conduct a structured literature review of high-quality academic
research according to . The objective of our work is to
provide an overview of existing research streams and trends.
Furthermore, we develop categories based on our ﬁndings, that
structure the existing literature to better observe the current
research objectives and research gaps.
Based on a thorough structured literature review from
January 2000 to September 2018, we answer the following
research question: In the emerging ﬁeld of local electricity
markets, (i) what is the status of current scientiﬁc research
and how did it develop, (ii) where are knowledge gaps in this
The paper is structured as follows: Section II explains the
used methodology. Then, Section III presents the literature
review and its main results. Section IV shortly discusses
the results and brings forth future research questions, before
Section V concludes the paper.
We use the renowned approach to a structured literature
review from . After identifying the main contributions in
leading journals, a backward and forward search is conducted
on the citations and recitations of those contributions. The
review only includes studies that directly consider LEMs
and/or trading with a certain sense of locality in the market
mechanism. The literature review covers the time of Jan 2000–
Sept 2018. The turn of the millennium also marks the start of
scientiﬁc LEM research . The used keywords center around
the search terms of “local energy/electricity market”, energy
trading”, “energy sharing”, “peer-to-peer” and “community
energy”. The keyword search was conducted by connecting
all search terms with the non-exclusive ‘OR’ operator on
the scientiﬁc search engine Google Scholar. All variations of
writing were used directly, or expressed by shortcuts, e. g. ‘*’.
We speciﬁcally exclude publications that only deal with
the optimization of power ﬂows or centralized optimization
of energy efﬁciency management in smart grids. These topics
lack the idea of locality and a market mechanism between
individual agents that LEMs focus on. To further increase the
quality of the review, we only consider publications in journal
or conference outlets with a high scientiﬁc journal ranking.
Operationally, this restricts the considered outlets to journals
of an h-index of ≥50 and conferences with a h index of ≥10.1
We use the rankings of the Scimago Institutions Ranking2from
III. LITERATURE REVIEW ON LEMS
Based on solely the keyword and backwards/forward
searches, 73 high-impact journal entries and conference pro-
ceeding papers have been identiﬁed as being part of the
relevant LEM literature. By considering the title, abstract,
introduction and conclusion of the found papers, we narrowed
the list down to 46 academic papers. A conclusive list and
categorization of the considered papers is provided in Table I.
The process of choosing the ﬁnally analyzed 46 papers was
conducted as follows: First, all relevant papers need to cover
1The h-index measures the outlet’s number of articles (h) that have received
at least hcitations. It thus represents a scientiﬁc impact number.
2The Scimago Institutions Rankings can be found here: https://www.
scimagojr.com/journalrank.php. Accessed on 04.12.18.
Fig. 1. Development of high-impact publications.
a certain degree of locality as this work is tracing develop-
ments in local electricity markets. Second, all selected articles
describe a market or trading mechanism that deﬁnes how
electricity is traded. Therefore, articles that only deal with the
optimization of power ﬂows or the maximization of energy
efﬁciency in smart grids are excluded from the detailed anal-
ysis. In the process of identifying the most relevant articles,
eleven have been excluded because of a missing electricity
trading mechanism, four because of a missing locality and
twelve articles have been excluded as a result of low h-index.
In the end, 34 journal entries and 12 conference proceedings
were derived for the detailed analysis. Figure 1 provides an
overview of when the journal and conference papers were
published. The publication trend is exponentially increasing
over the time of the literature review, with very few papers
being published before 2011 and quite a lot since then.
A detailed analysis of the 46 identiﬁed relevant articles is
shown in Table I. The papers have been evaluated regarding:
1) Concept: LEMs versus Microgrid Electricity Markets
(MEM), who focus more on the physical grid constraints
within a microgrid, but still consider enough local trad-
ing to be related to LEMs, and Peer-to-Peer Electricity
Trading (P2P), which focuses on direct trading between
agents (local or non-local).
2) Methodology of the Paper: Methodology is divided
into Case Studies (CS), Literature Reviews (LR), Opti-
mization (O), Simulation (S), Regulatory Considerations
(R), Game Theory (GT) and Theoretical concepts (Th).
3) Trading Design: Deﬁnes if electricity is conducted
via an Aggregator (Ag) trading for several end users,
Auction Mechanism (Au), a Direct Trading Mechanism
(DT) between agents, a Flexibility Market Mechanism
(FM), Inter-Market/Microgrid Trading (IM), Traditional
Electricity Market Design (EM) that is adapted to a
local market context, or a Real-Time Pricing Mechanism
4) Agent Design: Deﬁnes whether Zero Intelligent Agents
(ZIA) or Intelligent Agents (IA) with a learning strategy
5) Transactional Object: Deﬁnes the transactional object:
Electricity (El), Energy (En), Flexibility (F), Heat (H)
or Reserve Energy (RE). When energy is traded, but
the paper makes it clear that electricity is meant, it is
speciﬁed by En (El).
6) Participants: Deﬁnes the main participating LEM stake-
holders: Aggregators (A), Consumers (C), Distribution
Companies (DCo), Energy Utilities (EU), Local Gov-
ernance (G), Microgrid agents (M), Market Operators
(MO), Local Producers (P), Prosumers (Ps), Storage
Devices (SD) and System Operators (SO).
Beginning in the early 2000s,  publish the ﬁrst relevant
LEM paper. It argues that the then present liberalization
of the electricity sector would end up in LEMs.  use
LEMs to model the integration of electricity production from
ﬂuctuating renewable energy resources into the existing energy
market.  discusses the need for LEMs in Denmark. Since
all these early publications deal with the idea of integrating
local markets into the electricity sector or design options for
those, they are assigned to the LEM concept. Whereas 
contributes by ﬁnding a way to integrate local renewable
energy production in microgrids with the use of price signals
for inﬂuencing the behaviour of distributed resources, 
are the ﬁrst to actually design a local market which makes
it possible for consumers and local producers to directly trade
power and heat. They implement an allocation mechanism
based on a double auction and use an open order book call
market to let the end users negotiate the energy demand and
supply. Thus, they are a basis for a lot of subsequent work.
 are the ﬁrst authors to investigate the behaviour of market
participants in a local market environment by using an agent-
based simulation. They simulate multiple broker agents that
are learning their strategies based on market conditions.
a) Electricity Trading Design Approaches:  add to
the previous research by introducing a new auction model for
a local reserve energy market designed to accommodate the
special needs of non-expert bidders such as private households.
 extend this approach in designing a new market for
ﬂexibility with two planning and scheduling mechanisms.
The ﬁrst is an ahead-planning market, where ﬂexibility of
prosumers is accumulated taking into account load proﬁles.
The second is a real-time dispatching market in that the system
operator ﬁrst tenders voluntary generation proﬁle management
through price signals and if needed decides on a compulsory
generation proﬁle management.  choose an aggregator
for trading ﬂexible energy usage and ﬂexibility services. In
order to execute those trades,  design a market platform
for ﬂexibility, where electricity consumers’ and prosumers’
offers for ﬂexibility are collected by a smart service provider
platform and purchased by the service provider if needed. It
is similar to the market designed by .
 give an overview of inter-microgrid electricity trading
(IM). They introduce game theoretic methods for addressing
challenges posed in the smart grid.  have a more detailed
approach IM trading, as they introduce an optimization prob-
lem for microgrids operating in an islanding mode. First, they
conduct a centralized optimization by a market controller and
then ﬁnd an iterative solution by solving the local subproblems
within the microgrids that converges to the centralized opti-
mization. Furthermore,  analyze how the trading possibili-
ties between microgrids can increase the participants’ welfare.
 extend the microgrid trading approach by an agent-based
simulation with intelligent agents to model electricity buyers
and sellers on the LEM.
Several authors, including ,  and  use the NO-
BEL market model, a project supported by the European Com-
mission, to simulate and test agent behavior in a continuous
double auction.  discuss different design options for local
electricity markets and conclude, that a continuous double-
sided auction with private information suits the best for their
proposed market.  take a similar approach in comparing
two market designs in a local electricity market. The ﬁrst is
a P2P market that focuses on trades between randomly paired
consumers and prosumers based on pay-as-bid transactions.
The second is an order book market with a double auction
determining a uniform price calculated by a central comput-
ing entity. Compared to the earlier local electricity market
research,  put more emphasis on the direct trading within
a close geographic area between neighbors.  set their focus
on prosumers becoming active participants in the local market
and the smart grid.  propose direct trading via a local energy
exchange with a real-time pricing mechanism. They state that
an advantage of LEMs is allowing local funds to stay within
the community. Other authors including  also underline the
rise of local acceptance of energy projects in the community as
advantages of LEMs. In order to analyze economic beneﬁts a
local trading mechanism brings to communities,  design a
trading framework within neighborhoods considering actively
participating users as well as community storage devices to
simulate realistic test cases.
b) P2P Electricity Trading: This review’s ﬁrst P2P con-
cept is presented by . In an extending work,  simulate
electricity sharing between consumers and prosumers using
game theory and analyze the results through case studies
In the P2P concept many authors review existing projects
and trading options .  describe and compare global
projects.Moreover, they clearly deﬁne the distinction of the
P2P concept from the LEM and the MEM concept, as they
point out that ”Many of these trails designed business models
and marketplace for P2P energy trading, but ignored the
possibility of local energy markets in Microgrids (. . . ).” ( 
S. 2568).  assess the feasibility of P2P electricity trading
and introduce a three-level P2P electricity trading structure for
inter- and intra-Microgrid trading. In a successive work, 
develop a P2P real-time pricing mechanism which ensures that
all prosumers and consumers within a community are better
off participating in the P2P sharing due to a compensatory
price. A key ﬁnding of  is that P2P electricity sharing has
the potential to substantially reduce electricity costs and raise
a communitys self sufﬁciency.
 propose a general evaluation framework for comparing
the performance of P2P electricity sharing models. They
evaluate the electricity sharing model of , who design a
supply and demand ratio mechanism for electricity sharing
between prosumers in a microgrid instead of feeding into the
utility grid. It comprises a real-time pricing mechanism that
sets incentives to shift loads for overall electricity cost savings.
 conclude that the supply and demand ratio mechanism has
a high performance because the dynamic pricing mechanism
induces electricity sharing and demand response.  propose
a consortium blockchain based electricity trading system that
uses an auction mechanism for charging and discharging
electric vehicles. The blockchain technology secures privacy
protection without the need of a trusted third party, whereas
the auction mechanism is implemented to maximize social
welfare.  discuss the use of blockchain technology for P2P
trading in a microgrid market.
Another important issue regarding electricity trading on a
local level is the regulation and legal framework. Whereas 
deal with the regulation of ﬂexibility management options at
a local level, few publications have been made regarding the
regulation of pricing mechanisms and possible peer-to-peer
trading mechanisms at a local level. Regulatory scenarios need
to be further investigated.
Firstly, we identify a need to consolidate the existing deﬁni-
tions of LEMs. The wide spread and differing understandings
of LEMs frequently allow confusion with the similar termi-
nologies of microgrids, P2P trading, energy sharing and energy
communities. While we only observe the literature, we suggest
that the consolidated deﬁnition should focus on residential
local electricity trading, which is not speciﬁed to take place
in direct P2P transactions, but would most often use auction
mechanisms. Further, a LEM should be a virtual market place,
independent from the actual physical implementation, e. g.
from a microgrid or public grid. Ideally, grid constraints would
be included in the LEM. However, a solely virtual LEM should
also be possible. Secondly, a comprehensive comparison of the
impacts of different trading designs (especially market mech-
anisms) should be carried out. Thirdly, the focus on network
constraints and congestion management is widely mentioned,
but not investigated in-depth. It should be extended in the
future. Fourthly, the end customer focus of LEMs is pointed
out by several authors. Yet, a direct end customer focus, or a
speciﬁc analysis of end customer motivations, objectives and
strategies in LEMs is missing. Especially social satisfaction
of the LEM participants , economic proﬁtability for the
different stakeholders , price elasticity , cost fairness
and the social engagement in LEMs  are derived as current
research gaps. Fifthly, sustainable business models for LEM
stakeholders need to be developed. Sixthly, research on LEMs
is majorly centering on electricity trading. Sector coupling and
integrated energy systems (e. g. heat and electricity) or other
forms of energy should be intensively considered in future
work. Moreover, regulatory frameworks and legal conditions
should be considered.
RES ULTS O F THE L ITE RATU RE R EVI EW. THE PAPERS ARE ORDERED BY PUBLICATION YEAR,AND ALPHABETICALLY WITHIN THE YEAR.
Author (Year) Concept Methodology Trading Design Agents Transactional Object Participants
 LEM R, Th El, H C, DCo, EU, G
 LEM S EM El, H C, P, SD
 LEM R EM El C, DCo, EU, G
 LEM S RTP RE P
 MEM LR, O Au El, H C, P, MO
 LEM S DT, RTP IA El C, P, MO, SO
 MEM O IM En (El) M, MO
 MEM GT,LR IM El C, P, EU
 LEM S Au, 15 min El C, P, Ps
 LEM O, GT Ag, DT El A, C, EU
,  MEM CS, O, S Au, RTP / 30 min El C, P, SD
 MEM CS, S Au, IM / 15 min IA El C, M, P, SD, SO
 LEM S Au / 1h IA RE, F Ps, SO
 MEM CS, O Au El MO, Ps
 LEM CS, S DT, IA El C, EU, Ps, SD
 LEM CS, S Au / 15 min ZIA El, RE C, MO, Ps
 LEM LR En (El) C, M, P, SD
 MEM O, S IM / 1h El M
 LEM CS, S Au, DT / 15 min ZIA El C, P, Ps
 MEM R Au RE EU, Ps, SO
 MEM LR, R El G
 MEM LR DT, RTP El, RE, F A, EU, Ps, SO
 MEM LR El A, C, MO, P, SO
 LEM LR El C, DCo, MO, P
 LEM O, Th Ag, FM, RTP F A, MO, Ps, SO
,  P2P CS, S, GT Au, DT / 30 min El MO, P, Ps, SO
,  LEM LR, R Ag, FM F A, C, DCo, P, SO
 LEM CS, O Au, DT / 15 min En (El) A, C, EU, P, SO
 LEM S Au, DT / 15 min IA, ZIA El C, PS
 P2P CS, O Ag, Au El A, Ps, SD
 P2P CS, O DT, RTP El Ps, SO
 P2P CS, LR El C, P, Ps
 P2P LR En (El) C, MO, P, Ps, SO
 P2P CS, O, S DT, RTP / 1h IA El C, MO, Ps
– P2P CS, O DT, IM, RTP El, RE C, P
 MEM O DT, IM El C, M, P, SO
 MEM CS, LR Au / 15 min El C, Ps
,  LEM CS, O, S Ag, FM F A, C, P, Ps, SO
 LEM O, S, GT 30 min El MO, Ps, SD
 MEM CS, O, S Au / 1h ZIA El A, C, P, Ps
We conduct a structured literature review on high-impact
LEM trading research publications. Research on LEMs is
exponentially increasing since the beginning of the 2000s. Yet,
most research is case study centered, whereas a holistic under-
standing of LEMs is just recently evolving to be considered in
a structured way. We identify six main research gaps with the
help of the structured literature review. This work is to be seen
as a summary and interpretation of existing LEM research.
Building upon the existing research and ﬁlling the derived
research gaps will help LEM research to thrive in the future
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