Get smarter or get out of the way!

“The days of ‘monopolised’ power are coming to an end… get smarter or get out of the way.”

The future of the electricity industry has never come under such intense discussion. All over the world people in the power sector are asking the same question: how best to integrate new energy sources into the industry’s operations. Some see gas-fired power, possibly with a further shift into CCGT, as an interim solution, while others call for an end straight away to nuclear and fossil fuels and a global shift to renewables, now.

The comment above comes from an electricity manager in the US who was asked to give his view on the transition to renewable generation and who was clearly very much in favour. He was responding to an industry survey carried out for DNV GL, the international certification body and classification society.

The survey obtained views from more than 1,600 energy sector participants across more than 70 countries and two key questions were: If you believe that integrating renewable forms of energy into the existing system is the way forward, how soon do you think this could be done? And when do you think a situation of 70% renewable generation could be reached?

DNV’s report, entitled ‘Beyond Integration: Three dynamics reshaping renewables and the grid’, indicated broad global consensus that a renewables- based electricity system can be achieved.

And as many as eight out of 10 respondents believe that the electricity system can be 70% renewable by 2050. Almost half of them believe this can be achieved in the next 15 years.

This transition will not come about without substantial changes, though. David Walker, CEO DNV GL-Energy, called for the power industry to have a complete re-think.

He said that rebalanced rules would be needed to address the challenges and opportunities of developers and system operators in the move towards a high renewables system. He criticised current industry thinking for being “still too siloed”, and said that new entrepreneurial models would be required to expand the electricity business into the ‘internet of energy’.

He went on, “Our analysis of these findings concludes that the solution for a high renewables future demands a dramatic change in the industry’s approach to the integration of new technology.

“We need to adopt more collaborative approaches and go beyond old metrics, beyond old rules and beyond old silos. A shift away from a paradigm in which renewables are considered a nuisance to be accommodated to one in which the true potential of renewables in balancing and securing grids is unlocked.”