Microgrids are one of the most fiercely debated and dynamic topics of discussion in the energy industry today, and the extent of their eventual impact has yet to be determined. The next generation utility faces a plethora of challenges, including keeping pace with rapid advancements in microgrid technology, changes in policy and regulation, and the evolution of the business model.
In our third Spotlight issue with Utility Dive, we explore lessons learned from the 1980s technology revolution and how they apply to energy today, the advantages of utilizing mission-focused capital to increase public and private sector collaboration around U.S Federal microgrids, the benefits of using PA’s proprietary FutureWorlds™ scenario planning framework to help utilities develop strategies for microgrids in the future, and the current challenges and opportunities utilities are facing with the development of microgrids in their territories.
PA Consulting spoke with Carlos Nouel, Vice President New Energy Solutions at National Grid, and Rob Stewart, Manager Smart Grid and Technology at Pepco Holdings, Inc., an Exelon Company, about the challenges and opportunities associated with the development of utility microgrids. Some common themes emerged including the importance of resiliency post Hurricane Sandy, stakeholder engagement, regulatory hurdles and financing issues.
When considering the future, organizations tend to have a natural bias to what they see as a probable future. By using PA's scenario planning framework—FutureWorlds™, a platform that incorporates market uncertainties, and envisions futures designed to sharpen business strategy—utilities can plan for their preferred and likely microgrid futures and explore the benefits and risks of a variety of ownership/business models to penetrate those worlds.
The energy industry is following similar patterns to what was seen during the tech revolution of the 1980s. At the center of today’s energy dynamics are new technologies, forward-looking policies, changing customer demands, and evolving business models, which must all be addressed for successful microgrid implementation. We take a look at how the lessons of the past can be applied to microgrids and the broader energy industry today.
Today, US federal agencies are grappling with two significant energy management challenges: determining the value of energy resiliency and attracting private capital to supplement allocated public dollars for energy resiliency projects.
In this article, we describe our vision for a federal resiliency bank, whose mission would be to establish the value of resiliency to federal operations, communicate that value to the private sector, manage tools to evaluate project risk, and close financing gaps that may exist when creating bankable projects. Procurement of next generation energy technologies will require next generation federal contracting methodologies, and we describe how this can be achieved in full with a high degree of efficiency.