GLOBAL ENERGY TRENDS 2023
By ELIE NASR Principal Consultant eDisrupt Consulting Services inc.
ENERGYCENTRAL - Jan 3, 2023 - Electric utilities are facing a future of increased competition, disruptive technologies, and changing customer demands. To harness the Energy Transition taking place, Technology remains at the core of the electric utilities’ future as the industry works to meet the changing needs and expectations of customers and stakeholders.
Let's explore together the major trends that are expected to gain additional momentum.
- Renewable energy: the use of renewable energy sources such as solar & wind power will continue to grow. Countries and organizations work towards their renewable energy targets as they look for ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
- Grid modernization: smart grid technologies such as energy management systems, wide area management systems, advanced distribution management systems, metering management systems, distributed generation, demand-side management, geographical information systems, substation automation, near-real time load and generation forecast, are expected to thrive as utilities look for ways to improve the efficiency, reliability, and resiliency of the grid especially with the high penetration of renewables.
- Electrification of the Transportation sector: the adoption of electric vehicles is expected to grow as countries enact policies to reduce air pollution and address climate change. This will make way for the development of charging infrastructure, as well as an improvement in the affordability and range of electric vehicles.
- Energy storage: as the penetration of renewable energy sources increases, the use of energy storage systems, such as batteries or pumped hydro, will largely increase to accommodate for the storage of excess renewable energy and provide backup power due to intermittency. Such storage can provide a quick injection or absorption of power in the event of a sudden change in demand and supply to help in stabilizing the grid frequency to compensate for the lack of mechanical inertia.
- Decentralization: distributed energy resources and microgrids are paving the way towards a decentralized grid. The main benefits from such a trend are increased resilience and energy security. Smaller autonomous stations will be required to power a given region. More and more retail customers are generating their own power through on-site renewable energy systems, such as rooftop solar panels, while maintaining their connection to the grid. The same applies to community distributed power system that may work in tandem with the local utility to satisfy their energy needs while improving their local economy. Although this trend could lead to a more distributed, resilient, and efficient electric grid, but it also presents challenges for utilities in terms of managing the integration of these distributed energy resources.
- New Business Models are emerging: energy as a service (EaaS) where companies provide energy to their customers as a Service. A company may provide, manage, and maintain Solar and Wind installations on a customer property, and the customer ends up paying for the clean energy produced based on his consumption without worrying about any capital or operational expenditure. The use of Virtual Power Plants, or a network of distributed energy resources (DERs) that are connected and coordinated through advanced software and control systems, can help businesses and individuals reducing their carton footprints by using clean energy sources. Digital twins which are a virtual replica of physical assets or systems can be used to simulate the behavior of these systems under extreme conditions. Utilities could use such technology to offer recommendations for industrial clients or to optimize the efficiency of their own networks.
- Digitalization: To cope with such disruptive changes, business transformation led by digitalization becomes a must for Utilities to succeed in their journey. The industry has been undergoing significant changes in the past few years, and it is unlikely to slow down anytime soon. Business models are changing and so have cultural values. Utilities are now more focused on customer experience than ever before and are adapting their business models to be more customer centric. Data analytics and Artificial Intelligence are now playing a major role in this transition.