GFN was recently involved in the a major project with a major utility. This project examined how demand management in electricity might shift between now and 2030 and the implications that such shifts have for the current utility business model. Our work revealed the followinig:
- current networks are unidirectional and thus are unable to realise the full potential of what are known as smart grids. This is of particular concern given the widespread desire by many customers and some governments for environmentally friendly small scale power generation.
- despite the rhetoric which suggests that change is on the way, there is a deep cultural reluctance to enter into conversations that will require utilities to enter into dialogue with customers about demand management where shared arrangements are considered.
- in the short term the only way to have some control of alternative generation and demand management at the source of consumption (beyond managing efficiencies) is to introduce some kind of storage arrangement as the primary interface with the utilities.
In short the power of the network utilities has until now never been challenged. But now the technologies and systems of the post carbon age are almost upon us and whether they like it or not they will have to change.