Utility executives are concerned about the grid and the impact of disasters (88%), demand from EVs (85%), integrating renewables (86%) and complying with environmental mandates (90%).
Itron has released its 2021 Resourcefulness Insight Report detailing why modernizing energy infrastructure is the path to achieving a resilient and reliable grid that successfully mitigates the impacts of climate disruption, minimizes interruptions from natural disasters, integrates renewables and prepares for the increased adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).
Preparing for the Unexpected and the Inevitable: An Itron Resourcefulness Report summarizes key findings from surveys of 500 utility executives and 500 informed consumers from across five countries – United States, Australia, France, Germany and Indonesia – on the key challenges, barriers and concerns facing utilities in the next five years.
Launched at Itron Inspire 2021, the company’s customer-focused event, the report dives deep into the differing opinions of consumers and utility executives related to resilience planning for an innovative, reliable grid. Across the surveyed countries, integrating renewables and modernizing aging grid infrastructure are the top two biggest challenges. The findings indicate that in the next five years utility execs surveyed see EV demands becoming the biggest challenge for the grid. Additional key findings in the report show:
- Consumers agree with the top priorities of integrating renewables and upgrading infrastructures. However, they are more concerned about natural disasters (20%) than EVs (16%).
- Utility executives are extremely/very concerned about the grid and the impact of disasters (88%), demand from EVs (85%), integrating renewables (86%) and complying with environmental mandates (90%).
- Consumers are less concerned than utility executives about the impact of disasters and EVs on the grid, however they are also less confident in how prepared utilities are to manage these situations with 84% of utilities stating they are ready vs. 47% of consumers.
“In looking at these results, there is agreement on the need for grid modernization, but utility executives and consumers have different concerns and priorities. We see that utilities are looking to the future to plan and prepare for what is coming, while consumers indicated more immediate concerns,” said Marina Donovan, vice president of global marketing and public affairs. “Consumers remain concerned about how climate disruption – and the resulting rise in natural disasters – are impacting their lives, yet they are less aware or even unaware of the impact of EVs and renewables on the grid.”
Across all five countries, the biggest challenges to the reliability and resiliency of the grid are upgrading aging infrastructure, integrating renewables and complying with carbon mandates, but these priorities change as executives look to the future:
|Today||In Five Years|
|US||Upgrading grid||Upgrading grid|
|Australia||Upgrading grid||Meeting EV demand & upgrading grid|
|France||Integrating renewables||Meeting EV demand|
|Germany||Complying with carbon mandates||Meeting EV demand|
|Indonesia||Integrating renewables||Integrating renewables|
According to the survey, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed technology investments across all the countries. Yet, the technology is critical to create a more resilient infrastructure. The report notes that advanced metering infrastructure and distribution automation are high priorities for EVs, distributed energy resources (DER) deployments, and disaster response. And sensors are the highest priority technology for grid resiliency in the face of disasters.
“In America, the U.S. Senate passed a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which is currently being debated in the House of Representatives, that will be critical to driving grid modernization. Replacing aging electrical infrastructure is paramount to making the grid more resilient and reliable in the face of extreme weather conditions and climate disruption. This federal investment is needed to protect and prepare for disasters as well as sustainable growth,” added Donovan.
Itron is the diamond sponsor of DISTRIBUTECH International, set for Dallas, Texas, January 26-28, 2022.
This article was originally published on our sister publication POWERGRID INTERNATIONAL