Evolving business models of existing power grid companies and the adoption of advanced technologies in power grid management, including artificial intelligence, data, cloud solutions, among others are examples of insights into the future outlook of the U.S. power grid.
Renewable and Electric Service Providers
- Future grid operators will be both renewable and electric service providers.
- A recent Deloitte report indicates that in 2021, the U.S. power grid will continue witnessing expanding infrastructure driven by electric vehicles (EVs) charging infrastructure and battery storage development.
- Many players seeking to serve the growing demand for clean energy are expected to converge their offerings and become renewable and electric service providers.
- In this regard, many players in the energy sector, in particular, the U.S. power grid will have to evolve to meet the demands of consumers in the future.
Emerging DER Aggregation Platforms
- The research by Deloitte further affirms that the “emerging DER aggregation platforms will expand digital utility industry infrastructure.”
- Importantly, integrating DER into the power grid demands new technological infrastructure to help aggregate, manage, and enhance the power grid.
- Technology companies are forecasted to alter their current business models to create distributed energy resources (DER) involving buildings and electric vehicles.
Seamless Power Grid From Generation to Distribution
- Energy.gov notes that the future U.S. power grid will include a “seamless, cost-effective electricity system, from generation to end-use, capable of meeting all clean energy demands and capacity requirements.”
- It will also comprise significant scale-up of clean energy; universal access to consumer participation and choice; holistically designed solutions (including regional diversity, AC-DC transmission and distribution solutions, micro grids, energy storage, and centralized-decentralized control); two-way flows of energy and information; and reliability, security (cyber and physical), and resiliency.
Changing Business Models
- The U.S. power grid is anticipated to experience significant technology advancements resulting in changing business models.
- Notably, the technologies necessary for battery storage are anticipated to evolve further and transform the existing power grid.
- The new business models driven by advanced technologies and innovations are the primary enablers in stabilizing grids as renewable energy sources increase.
Artificial Intelligence & Advanced Cloud Technologies Drive Innovation
- Artificial intelligence, advanced cloud technology, big data, machine learning, software engineering models, and data-governance practices are increasingly transforming the U.S. power grid and paving the way for new use cases beyond individual systems.
- These grid technologies are creating new opportunities to improve value across energy transmission and distribution T&D workflows and incorporate smart solutions like “smart meters, grid management systems (DMS/TMS), asset-management platforms, and geospatial information systems (GIS).”
US National Power Grid – What’s Next?
President Joe Biden’s plan for the US national power grid involves clean energy innovation and infrastructure investment. Clean energy innovation and infrastructure investment are also key components that are present in the Green New Deal. Details regarding what is next for the US national power grid have been provided below.
- President Joe Biden’s plan when it comes to the US national grid is “to build a modern, sustainable infrastructure and an equitable clean energy future.”
- According to the Biden campaign website, the plans are aimed at modernizing the nation’s electric grid and ensuring that it is more resilient, smarter, and capable of meeting the evolving needs of a “net-zero greenhouse-gas-emissions economy.”
- Biden’s plan when it comes to the national grid includes infrastructure investment and clean energy innovation.
Biden’s Plan and the Green New Deal
- One of President Biden’s plans for the US electric grid is to take advantage of the current infrastructure and existing rights-of-way along railways and roads to enable easier and faster permitting.
- The Biden Administration will also collaborate with utilities when it comes to installing advanced metering equipment. In addition, the Administration will upgrade transmission lines to accommodate more established regional electric markets with the capability of distributing renewal energy.
- Clean energy innovation is another plan President Biden has for the US electric grid. The Biden Administration intends to accelerate research and development on battery technology and local production capabilities, focusing on creating the domestic supply chain of batteries for the grid and EVs so that they effectively complement technologies such as wind and solar.
- New battery technology will help in reducing waste, lowering costs, and increasing durability. The batteries will be built by Americans in the United States.
- Furthermore, President Biden plans to “establish a technology-neutral Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard (EECES) for utilities and grid operators.” The EECES will reduce electricity pollution and electricity bills, ensure that carbon-pollution free energy in electricity generation is achieved by 2035, and make the market more competitive while incentivizing higher utilization assets.
- Biden’s Administration also plans to have an integrated energy grid supplied by clean energy from Mexico to Central America and Colombia.
- It is noteworthy that President Biden’s plan for the US national power grid borrows progressive elements in the Green New Deal. As such, the plan has many similarities to the policy agenda when it comes to the national power grid since both plans call for major investments.
- The Green New Deal is a policy agenda aimed at addressing the climate crisis, promoting justice, and creating quality jobs. One of President Biden’s policy objectives is to have a “100% clean energy economy by 2050.”
- One of the key components in the Green New Deal is national grid improvements. In this case, the agenda is to modernize the national grid to enable more long-distance transmission and storage of renewable energy.
- One of the notable differences between the two plans is that the timeline for the Green New Deal is more aggressive since it calls for a 10-year national mobilization to fully generate clean energy in the US. On the other hand, Biden’s plan has a timeline of 15 years.
Opposition to Biden’s Plan and the Green New Deal
- In 2020, Biden’s plan was opposed by the Trump campaign who claimed that the initiative would eliminate jobs, cost consumers, and hobble US energy efforts. Critics noted that the plan would result in the doubling or tripling of household electricity costs.
- Lawmakers in cities such as Atlanta and Phoenix oppose Biden’s plan because they believe there are more pressing concerns to deal with after the COVID-19 pandemic due to shattered state budgets.
- Critics have also noted that the existing network is not sufficient to achieve the scale of solar and wind power that the plan requires.
- Moreover, some of the wind and solar resources are found in the Plains, corners of the desert, or away from cities. The US will require new transmission lines to connect the projects to the grids, which is complicated to achieve due to bureaucracy.
- The Green New Deal has also received opposition from some Democrats who prefer to concentrate on reducing emissions and argue that transforming energy use will not be an easy task.
- On the other hand, due to ideological differences, a few Republicans note that there is a climate emergency, which means that a majority do not support the Green New Deal.