IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - September/October 2016 - 61

A wide-scale adoption of consumer-owned renewable generation,
and eventually storage, will create a fundamentally new design
model for most utilities.
production yields to be realized. the result of this is that,
according to the u.s. department of Energy, installed prices
have declined an average of 6-8% per year, even as capacity
additions have enabled the installed base to exceed 430 Gw.
Even as the wind revolution was unfolding, consumers
became aware of another breakthrough technology: economically viable solar generation through photovoltaic (PV)
applications. over the last decade, improvements in materials science and manufacturing capability have enabled the
cost of solar power to decline by almost 75% and the total
installed base of solar PVs to approach 200 Gw. while solar
adoption continues to be heavily influenced by favored tax
treatment, the economics and price certainty alone have
become a greater factor in adoption decisions.
while not a new technology per se, the last decade has
seen the rapid adoption of gas-fired generation as the abundance of shale and (more recently) a global hydrocarbon glut
have pushed the price of this fuel to record lows, and technology continues to improve. according to the Energy information administration, natural-gas-fueled generation capacity
will exceed that of coal in 20 years and become the dominant
production source, followed closely by coal and renewables.
while renewable generation technologies are highly visible
to consumers, transmission and distribution (t&d) technologies tend to be less so but have nevertheless made substantial progress over the last several years, driving improved
reliability and resilience. technology breakthroughs have
focused on the integration of enhanced digital capabilities to
infrastructure. Perhaps at the top of the list of consumer-transparent infrastructure are phasor measurement units (which
allow for real-time observability of the bulk power grid),
flexible alternating current transmission systems (which
allows for cost-effective dc integration into the bulk power
grid), and smart inverter technologies [which potentially
allows utilities to use distributed energy resources (dErs)
as virtual power plants].
consumers have also experienced new technologies that
have enabled a revision to their historical consumption models
and energy awareness. the first of these is the relatively widescale adoption of advanced/smart meters. with more than
50  million smart meters installed, more than 40% of all residences are seeing consumption measured in a much more granular way than ever before possible. additionally, there has been
an explosion of home automation offerings, many focused on
enhancing energy efficiency. most notable of these has been the
advent of the smart thermostat. as one of the greatest sources
of energy demand, home heating, ventilation, and air-condiseptember/october 2016

tioning systems can now be more easily controlled and optimized, including the use of ubiquitous "apps" to enable remote
manipulation of the environmental controls to allow for ongoing
changes to ambient requirements. Finally, new technologies have
also permeated the most basic electric application-lighting-
with current generation compact fluorescent lighting quickly
giving way to more adaptable light-emitting diode options.
Energy storage is another technology that has the ability to redefine how energy is managed across all applications. while the cost of storage technologies has continued
to come down, more work is required to make these devices
truly ubiquitous and cost-effective. the wide-scale adoption
of robust storage capabilities would fundamentally transform the electric landscape and lead to an inherent reprioritization of key production and delivery models.

Technology Implications
the next evolution of the electric industry will be characterized by a high level of consumer engagement, with technology continuing to inexorably advance toward this new
end state. this transition will stress current industry norms
across several dimensions including operations, economics,
customer engagement, and regulatory.

Operations
as previously discussed, a wide-scale adoption of consumerowned renewable generation, and eventually storage, will
create a fundamentally new design model for most utilities,
one that optimizes a combination of local energy and t&d
infrastructure to more reliably and economically deliver
power to a load. reconfiguring existing systems to accommodate bidirectional power flow, considering designs that
substitute local generation and storage as alternatives to t&d
expansions, and segmenting networks for resilience and
recovery are new operating norms unfamiliar in many utility
planning departments. most challenging to utility operations
will be the rapid expansion of noncontrolled, and nonvisible,
generation (real and virtual) that will impact negatively and
positively on systems without significant notice. while utilities have historically been role models for evaluating known
risks and operating prudently, losing control over the levers
of production will significantly stress their ability to respond
quickly and effectively. indeed, understanding the new risk
profiles associated with unfamiliar technologies and how to
integrate these risks into the existing t&d operation will
become an essential new capability to be developed and
mastered by control centers and maintenance operations.
ieee power & energy magazine

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - September/October 2016

IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - September/October 2016 - Cover1
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - September/October 2016 - Cover2
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - September/October 2016 - 1
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IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - September/October 2016 - Cover3
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - September/October 2016 - Cover4
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