DER marketplace will be the YouTube of energy


Black & Veatch has issued a new report analysing the smart grid market and how distributed energy resources (DER) are impacting utility business models.

The study was compiled from the response of more than 200 participants across water, electric and gas utilities.

One in five of the the survey participants said their utility will allocate more than $200 million to grid modernisation over the next three years.

An additional 26% of utility executives say they will devote between $100 million and $200 million.

Other key findings include:

  1. Nearly four of every five respondents are planning to expand their telecommunications programmes over the next five to 10 years. 16% anticipate change but have not yet started with the planning process.
  2. Budget constraints and competing priorities, followed by regulatory hurdles are key barriers to grid modernisation.
  3. 30% of utilities now provide at least five DER customer programmes whilst fewer than 16% provide only just one.
  4. Nearly 75% of utility executives say DER will shape distribution infrastructure in coming years , while 56% named EV charging.
  5. Smarter grids, which rely on interconnectedness, will require active network management, holding the promise of better monitoring, control and automation capabilities.
  6. 77% of utilities plan to adopt a managed charging approach to balance increased load on the grid related to EV charging.
  7. Utilities continue to recognise the critical role that cybersecurity plays in ensuring the future health, reliability and resilience of the electric grid.

“Similar to the way that music services like Spotify and YouTube give artists a platform to share and monetise their product without the oversight of a record company, a DER marketplace can have the same impact on our electric grid.”

“Energy, just like music, can now be generated from (nearly) anywhere and by (nearly) anyone,” that section’s authors submit. “The question is, do utilities have the mechanisms in place to ensure the DER revolution will play them a favorable melody?”

The 2019 Strategic Directions: Smart Utilities Report, is available for download at

Previous articleEggshells, the answer to battery storage
Next articleEurope’s power sector could be decarbonised by 2045
Nicholas Nhede is an experienced energy sector writer based in Clarion Event's Cape Town office. He has been writing for Smart Energy International’s print and online media platforms since 2015, on topics including metering, smart grids, renewable energy, the Internet of Things, distributed energy resources and smart cities. Originally from Zimbabwe, Nicholas holds a diploma in Journalism and Communication Studies. Nicholas has a passion for how technology can be used to accelerate the energy transition and combat climate change.