The power sector is on the verge of an historic transformation. Consumer empowerment and blurring of industry boundaries is resulting in competition from outside the industry.
The advent of consumer-centric new enablers like demand response, electric vehicles, energy efficiency, distributed generation and their convergence can pose an existential threat to a volume-based traditional business model.
There is a shift towards new models to enable energy services. Data from smart meters and digitalization provides the potential to enhance the customer experience, create new products and services and make field force more empowered and intelligent.
The drive towards innovation, reliability, sustainability and efficiency is also changing the utility value chain – with the consumer becoming the prosumer (producer + consumer), distribution network operators (DNOs) becoming distribution system operators (DSOs), centralized generation competing with virtual power plants and a shift from supply management to demand management.
Consumer behavior and grid operation
Empowered consumer and new enablers like distributed generation, PHEV (plugin hybrid electric vehicle) will influence the way the grid is going to operate by bringing in an uncertain and probabilistic element.
The operation of the grid will be significantly impacted by:
- Economic factors like buy-and-sell decisions based on the market price, government subsidy and feed-in tariff for renewable encouragement;
- human factors like consumer preference for green fuels; and
- technology factors like smart thermostats and intelligent interactive home appliances.
The intermittent nature of renewables, movable loads like electric vehicles and technology influences on human nature, coupled with the constraints of physical distribution infrastructure, will need a finely grained structure to manage the economics of the grid. We might see marginal energy pricing at post code level.
Imminent regulatory changes
Regulatory reforms are also indicative of more commoditized markets being ready to embrace higher participation.
The electricity market reform (EMR) in the UK is introducing capacity markets alongside the existing energy market. The capacity markets will encompass both generation and non-generation resources.
In non-generation resources, demand side reserve (DSR) and storage are considered and will receive a predictive revenue stream for providing reliable capacity. The net amount of capacity needed to ensure security of supply will be contracted through a competitive annual auction run by the system operator where both generation and non-generation approaches such as DSR will be able to participate.
The reform will encourage aggregators to …