We have described the paradigm change on technical and commercial grid functions. What else is likely to happen?
- As we change the way to produce and manage electricity, the roles of individuals and organizations change. Some thrive on opportunities, others become obsolete. Individuals learn new skills or change jobs, organizations grow, shrink, split or merge. Winners will support, losers oppose or slow down change.
- As electricity consumption shrinks in highly developed countries, it grows in less developed ones. More electricity is also needed to convert building and traffic sectors from fossils to renewables. New players have different agendas, interests and approaches than traditional energy players.
- Flexibility becomes more important and technology providers play a stronger role: Typical new players are the building technology providers and facility managers, automotive and battery manufacturers, and the water sector.
- Climate change has a strong impact: on energy production (changing weather) and consumption (more cooling at rising temperatures), on infrastructure affected by hurricanes (transmission lines) and floods. This requires even more flexible and resilient solutions.
Other considerations that are often neglected
- Energy infrastructure has a typical operational life of 50 years. It adopts change slowly, as only after 50 years existing installations are fully replaced. How does this fit with the innovation rate and short life of ICT? How can we build a consistent system from such diverse components?
- Even though renewable energy is cheaper than fossils, upfront investment (CAPEX) is high. Replacing fossil by renewable production is financially demanding and needs a reliable framework.
- Consumer needs and behavior play a growing role. Will they adapt to change, ignore it, or put more strain on the system? It is prudent to focus on automated flexibility that creates minimum interference and loss of comfort for the individuals concerned.