Global consulting firm Black & Veatch issued a paper analysing developments in utility infrastructure and the implementation of new business models.According to the consulting firm, the paper is a discussion of progress made in the development of energy generation and distribution infrastructure in the previous year.
The paper highlights factors driving changes in the global energy landscape and issues negatively impacting the market.
Findings of the paper include an increase in the adoption of renewable energy resources, changes in regulatory policies and increased stakeholder focus on investments to improve the reliability and resilience of grid networks.
Black & Veatch says energy providers continue to embrace new and innovative business models under efforts to understand and make use of real-time data to optimise operations through strategic allocation of resources and investments.
At the same time, utility firms continue to increase portfolio’s of distributed energy resources and demand side management measures including solar, wind, energy efficiency and demand response to reduce reliance on coal-fired generation and to reduce carbon emissions.
Renewable and DER integration is a priority, with almost half responding that they plan to add renewable energy sources- 44% from solar photovoltaic and 42% from wind turbines to their systems within the next five years.
“At the residential level, customers continue to adopt solar and other behind-the-meter options to assert levels of grid independence that will challenge business plans of old.”
However, factors such as security of grid infrastructure, environmental regulation and management of long-term investments and growing customer demands continue to pose as challenges for energy providers to achieve the reliability of their systems.
Although energy providers continue to make significant investments in new business models and grid infrastructure, long-term concerns in key operational and organisational areas are not yet resolved, found Black & Veatch.
Recommendations to optimise utility infrastructure
Reliability remains a fundamental priority, with 96% of utilities interviewed by Black & Veatch rating it as important or very important.
Cybersecurity is the second most prioritised issue by utility firms followed by the management of long-term investments.
The annual report presents utilities with a roadmap to follow to address challenges within the sector.
60% of the interviewed energy stakeholders say there is need for an increase in investments in the energy transmission and distribution sectors. Aging infrastructure and the need to improve the reliability of grid systems are expected to continue driving energy transmission and distribution investments.
Innovation and back-up from national regulatory authorities are expected to play leading roles in helping energy providers improve the reliability of energy systems.
Many end users are beginning to take control of their home energy consumption and service through the use of remote monitoring systems, a movement that is expected to gain speed over the next few years.
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