Where are we going?
We are going toward an amorphous, decentralized, market driven environment. But always under the watchful eye of grid managers, the wizards behind the curtain, maintaining the “high nines” of reliability –On and within spec 99.99999% of the time— we forget what we take for granted.
The utilities will reform, reinvent themselves. The forward-looking will do so voluntarily, the others will be brought along kicking and screaming. A younger generation of utility engineers, executives and savvy investors will reinvent the deregulated distribution companies into DG facilitating service providers.
In deregulated energy markets, applications will proliferate. There are men and women who, this very minute, are plotting to arbitrage electrons. Software will rule. There is no vision yet for where vertically integrated utilities will go.
When storage matures, the last of the major power technology hurdles will have been cleared. For power technology, the main play will come from incremental efficiency gains. The real gains will rise in the form of information technology through the conduit of the internet of things. The Nest thermostat is a pale harbinger of connectivity to come. We will see automated energy trading with microscopic granularity. And at the same time and through the same vehicle, grid operators will gain an infinitely greater real-time situational awareness of myriad distributed generators, dispatchable storage units and curtailable loads.
All of this will come with economies of scale and greater efficiencies, driving prices down.
It will be a triumph of the good intentions and the good work of mavericks around the globe. Engineers, financiers, politicians, collaborating to implement an inchoate but compelling vision.