What to Expect in 2013

Where is the energy industry headed in 2013? We spoke to various Clarion Energy Conference Analysts from around the globe who were able to shed some light on what the energy industry can expect over the next year.
Published: Tue 22 Jan 2013

Cyber Security

Despite the defeat of the US Cyber Security bill, this issue will continue to spark political debate across most of the developing world as critical infrastructure security issues become a major political battleground.

Big Data

Utilities AEW2013 will see utilities working to align 'big data' and business opportunities to influence consumer behavior, as well as design, in data driven infrastructure using artificial intelligence agents. The utility business is one of the few that combines the three macro challenges of big data as described by the McKinsey report - variety, velocity and volume. This puts utilities in a unique position to capitalize on new big data intelligence and analytics tools.

Energy Efficiency through loss reduction

Research, undertaken by the U.S. Department of Energy, indicates that an increase in energy efficiency could reduce national energy consumption by between 10 - 20%. This area will be a key focus across the generation and transmission chain. There will also be an increase in the development of new efficiency-driven materials and systems.

Integration of renewable and distributed generation

A key driver for 2013 will be the effective management and integration of renewables with the grid. Particular attention will be paid to integrating prosumers, mostly in developed countries with robust smart grid infrastructures.

Smart Meter

Smart meter deployments in emerging market countries will be double that of 2012. This is according to Northeast Group's annual Emerging Markets Smart Grid: Outlook 2013 study. The study analyzes 35 countries from Central/Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, Middle East/North Africa, South Africa and Southeast Asia. With growth continuing throughout the decade, these countries will represent a smart metering – or advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) – market of US$56bn by 2022. The total number of electricity meters in these countries will grow to 546 million by 2022, with 27% already targeted by regulators to be "smart."

Following severe weather conditions over the last year, utilities are likely to prioritize outage prevention, preparedness and quicker response time by installing more smart meters, as well as paying more attention to data collection systems. Utilities will embrace analytics to make sense of their bigdata”.

In addition to ongoing technology breakthroughs, game-changing policies will need to be applied as the current practice of applying technology innovations within existing utility business models is similar to “pouring new wine into old wineskins.”

Business case of smart meter/grid beyond theft prevention

No country is immune to electricity theft. Meter tampering and theft is on the rise across the world and utilities will be working to rectify this as they are faced with tremendous financial losses and safety issues. Utilities are turning to smart meter technology which will help prevent non-technical losses as the meters are able to detect unusually heavy demands which may indicate illegal hookups. The meters can also be used to switch off service to non-paying consumers. This can be done without having to send out staff.

Renewable distributed generation

Global installations of renewable distributed electricity generation are set to escalate from now until 2017, according to Pike Research. Over the next four years, close to 232GW of distributed renewables will be added. In a growing number of cases around the world, renewable distributed generation technologies are more cost-effective than centralized installations that require transmission to population centers. Renewable energy equipment costs will continue to dive and “will contribute to eating into centralized energy generation’s lunch.”

Demand response

With economic growth, comes an increasing demand for electricity. In addition, if extremely hot weather conditions persist, demand response will become critically important. There may even be a repeat of California’s extreme price volatility and record high electric spot market prices. This will be despite the low cost of natural gas which is lowering electricity prices. Demand response will improve its value proposition in the wholesale electric markets and will, therefore, compete more effectively with generation, and attract more interest from the investment community.

Rollback of subsidies

Electricity prices could be on the increase as governments withdraw costly subsidies. The high rates are meant to encourage consumers to use less electricity. Energy efficiency is expected to cut consumption significantly.

VPP and intelligent power management

Researchers will be looking at how to integrate a large number of small, renewable sources into the grid in a more efficient and cost effective way, as current feed-in tariffs, that simply reward production are expensive and ineffective. Virtual Power Plants are able to efficiently combine the power generated in small scale renewable energy projects to create a single stable power source. The VPP uses intelligent, multi-agent software to control the variable power being received by the distributed energy resources and stabilize it for use on the grid.

Day-ahead market

Many countries will be turning towards a day-ahead market for various reasons. Advantages include greater operational certainty for suppliers, wholesale electricity consumers are given sufficient time to react to the price, suppliers and consumers can avoid volatile real-time prices, reduce Interchange Offer Guarantee payments and reduce trading barriers with neighbors

Consumer engagement

Utilities are beginning to understand the importance of the consumer’s active involvement in working towards energy efficiency. This year, utilities will be paying more attention to their customers by educating them about smart meter technology as there are still a large number of consumers who have yet to understand the benefits of the smart technology for both the utility and consumer.

Energy prices

Prices are likely to continue to increase. The quarter ahead wholesale prices for spring, summer, autumn and winter 2013 are forecast to exceed comparative 2012 measures by 3%. Of course, this is based on typical climate patterns, and severe weather would substantially impact this forecast.

Renewables

As solar energy prices are plummeting, the solar power industry is expected to absorb more of the market share from other energy technologies. In addition, the wind industry continues to grow: it is predicted to reach the status of nuclear power in the near future. In addition, China is expected to outpace the rest of the world in the green energy sector.

Contributors

Aida Mezit, Conference Director Synergy

Adriano Rehder, Conference Producer, Latin America

Sources                                                     

EcoBusiness-Renewable distributed electricity generation to triple by 2017

Energy Forecaster-Energy Forecaster 2013 predictions

Oil Price-Using a Virtual Power Plant to Help Connect Renewable Energy Sources to the Grid

Smart Grid News-Energy theft: From bad to worse (and what some utilities are doing about it)

Smart Grid News-10 home energy management trends for 2013