The North Sea area is relatively small but important and in some respects unique when it comes to energy. It has become an important centre of fossil fuel generation and since the late 1960s an important source of the fossil fuels themselves, and now it is seeing growing interest for the development of renewables, especially offshore wind power.
It also has the potential, under the ‘Smart Combinations’ project emerging out of the ENSEA initiative, to bring in new technologies such as power-to-gas and hydrogen storage and carbon capture and storage using the decommissioned oil and gas wells, platforms and pipelines that otherwise would have to be removed. “This would make a smart combination out of using old fossil fuel equipment to resolve the intermittency of renewables,” Prof. Carinus Jepma told Engerati in an exclusive interview. [The North Sea – A Global Energy Hotspot]
With the changing energy landscape, visions are emerging from different quarters about the transformation of utilities. Capgemini envisions the future utility as an energy services company powered on the digital customer experience. [Digitizing The Customer Experience] In an interview, Steve Callahan outlines IBM’s emerging vision of the utility as energy integrator responsible for the core utility functions such as generation integration and supply and demand balancing. [Utility As Energy Integrator] Inevitably ultimately there will be multiple models emerging according to regulatory and other local market conditions, but a message emerging from these proposals is that it is the utilities that should be taking the lead in their transformation.
America’s Clean Power Plan, which seeks a deep cut in carbon emissions from power plants, appears to mark a turning point in the nation’s use of coal for power generation. Up to now the US has been wary of curbing coal production over concerns that it would disadvantage the country economically and competitively in world markets, but the significant contribution of coal burning to emissions is undeniable. [Obama’s Clean Power Plan - An Economically Sound Blueprint to Transition the US Toward a Low-Carbon Future] This is likely to be good news for the renewable sector, but whether it will impact clean coal research, with its significant investments in the US, is unclear.
Current wisdom is that it’s not a question of if but rather when your utility will have a security breach, whether from something as basic as an employee opening a spambot mail on their PC to something substantially more serious. Thus, it is never too soon to implement security measures – in fact soon in Europe it is going to become a legal requirement, and also to report any significant incidents. [Actionable Cyber Security For Smart Grids]
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