The electricity utility industry is facing disruption. The worldwide trends causing the disruption – decarbonization, decentralization, deregulation, democratization and digitalization – are expected to continue.
Electricity grids are being challenged by disruptive resources in ways that were never conceived when electricity grids were originally designed and deployed. The challenges posed by these new resources can be summarized as follows:
- Limited visibility: new resources are being deployed but grid operators have limited, if any, visibility of them. Because these new technologies are implemented behind the customer’s meter no direct mechanisms are in place to measure the effects such as changes to load patterns and back feeding generation into the grid,.
- Limited control: these same resources that are invisible to the grid operator are also uncontrollable.
- Limited predictability: grid operators have limited abilities to predict resource production and usage
- Limited coordination: new resources are implemented in a relatively uncoordinated manner and generally on low-voltage distribution networks.
However, it is these same new resources that will most likely provide essential services to the grid and help resolve certain global challenges.
Electricity grid improvements often take years to materialize while, conversely, advancements in technology are facilitating rapid upgrades on the demand-side. To keep pace, governments and capital markets must invest in grid operations, both through improved and expanded electricity market designs and through the adoption of enabling technologies for the grid operators.
To help understand the challenges facing the electricity utilities industry and how it can respond, the IEC had issued a new White Paper entitled Stable grid operations in a future of distributed electric power. This White Paper examines the modifications required in the form of changed processes, new technologies and improved global standards to facilitate the delivery of services and provide stability to electricity grids.