Engerati’s Week In Smart Energy – Modernizing The Grid

Published: Mon 25 Jan 2016
A blog entry by Jonathan Spencer Jones

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Jonathan Spencer Jones
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A key issue facing the industry is how to transition to a modern grid that meets the demands of the evolving electric sector. While much has been learned over the past few years with the further developments that have occurred there is still a good deal to learn and understand in terms of gaining further insight and control on the grid. The US DOE’s Grid Modernization Plan sets out an agenda for research, development and demonstration over the next decade and has made an initial award of US$220 million to 87 projects to get the ball rolling. [Modernizing The Power Grid]

The business case is critical when it comes to rolling out new technologies or systems and so it is crucial to ensure all the potential benefits are quantified alongside the costs. This doesn’t appear to be the case with energy storage. As a result its value is being underestimated with  misperceptions about its true value. [World Energy Council - Energy Storage Value Underestimated] A new study from the Word Energy Council finds that there has been a too narrow focus on the cost of energy storage and ignoring of the system value of the stored energy. Further, the ‘levelized cost’ metric is both arbitrary and incomplete in not accounting for different use cases.

Despite the potential for rooftop solar in sunny South Africa, the market is falling behind, constrained by rebate uncertainty and the lack of innovative finance options. Despite the country’s severe peak demand pressure, there are signs that the government may be reluctant to encourage a residential market. [South Africa’s Solar Market Needs Innovative Financing ] However, householders who take the plunge will find the overall costs very competitive and new entrants will be sure to find market opportunities.

Despite the opposition from some quarters, nuclear energy is here to stay. It has already demonstrated its role in significant emissions mitigation as a provider of dispatchable carbon dioxide-free, affordable baseload energy. Ongoing research around the world focused on the next generations of technologies and the potentially longer term fusion will ensure it has a continuing role in the long-term decarbonization of the sector. [Nuclear Energy Advances]

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