Changing customer needs, evolving policy and regulation, and innovation around distributed energy resources (DER) are driving historic transformation across the energy industry, according to Navigant Research.
These trends are contributing to an emerging grid known as the Energy Cloud that is cleaner, more distributed and intelligent.
“Energy industry players must be more flexible and responsive to shifting priorities than ever before, and it is imperative for utilities to engage in a more agile strategic planning process,” says Jan Vrins, Navigant Energy segment leader. “While not all pathways to navigate this transformation will be appropriate for all players across all markets, those that acknowledge the complexity of the challenge ahead will have an advantage.”
Revenue across the electric value chain will shift downstream toward the edge of the grid, and digital innovation is expected to represent a $1.3 trillion market opportunity in 2030.
The most critical part of the Energy Cloud transition is balancing ongoing investments in the core grid with additional dynamic platforms that support new technologies, products, and services such as integrated DER (iDER), customer energy management, smart cities and transportation, the internet of things (IoT) and transactive energy.
As the network orchestrators, utilities play a key role in making sure new technologies and offerings are integrated with existing infrastructure and operations so that the full value of distributed energy is captured while the impact of stranded assets is understood and managed.
Existing planning horizons and tools, such as strategic plans and integrated resource plans, are insufficient. A more agile strategic planning approach is needed to pinpoint the trends, opportunities, and threats, and to introduce new technologies and business models successfully to address market and customer needs.
Ongoing digitization efforts are laying the foundation for dynamic platforms that recombine technologies and services, moving beyond organizational siloes. From iDER, to smart cities, to building-to-grid, these platforms provide abundant opportunities for growth. With limited capital, however, and, in many cases, facing divergent investment choices, utilities and other stakeholders must choose a strategic pathway to navigate a new course and sustain long-term growth, according to the white paper. Navigant’s Energy Cloud Playbook outlines five steps industry participants should follow to prepare their organizations to face disruption and capture value in the Energy Cloud.
“By blending traditional assets, services, and interactions, and unlocking many new technologies, business models, and relationships, the emerging Energy Cloud will redefine market structures and traditional stakeholder relationships,” says Mackinnon Lawrence, senior research director at Navigant Research. “This rapidly unfolding landscape will require new strategies and approaches to both current and emerging industry realities.”