By Michael Mock, VP of Industry Development, The Electrical Alliance
David Crane, former CEO of NRG and a nationally recognized expert on the generation and distribution of electrical services has noted “the current command-and-control, centralized, one-size-fits-all wire and wooden pole system invented by Thomas Edison is going to be quickly replaced with initiatives in the smart home with home solar, distributed generation, reliability solutions, microgrids, electric vehicle charging and portable solar and energy storage products.”
No doubt Mr. Crane’s observation is correct. That said, which of the numerous alternatives he mentions will have a long-lasting impact on how we generate, store and distribute electricity as markets evolve?
DER (Distributed Energy Resources) is an approach that will play a major role in the market’s evolution, irrespective of what alternative energy system(s) are involved. Simply put, DER moves away from the concept of a central power plant (usually fired with coal or natural gas) supplying power to large areas to smaller, localized sources of power generation, including solar, wind and other alternative power sources, closer to the consumers of power.
DER can lower consumer prices, improve market efficiency and allow consumers to take greater control of their electricity use and costs. In fact, a recent Price Waterhouse Coopers survey reports that 94 percent of the senior power and utility executives surveyed “predict complete transformation or important changes to the power utility business model” by 2030.
Energy markets continue to evolve and are sometimes chaotic—hallmarks of substantial changes in any marketplace. DER provides opportunities to reduce greenhouse gases while also improving the reliability of power supply systems. No one can predict exactly what future energy markets will include, but DER will surely be a major part of the mix.
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