Secondly, this research thrust studies the major drivers of energy transition, especially the change in electric power systems, including growth in distributed energy generation (DERs) systems such as intermittent renewable electricity and gas-fired distributed generation; flat to declining electricity demand growth; aging electricity infrastructure and investment gaps; proliferation of affordable information and communications technologies (e.g., advanced meters or interval meters), increasing innovations in data and system optimization; and greater customer engagement. In this ongoing electric power sector transformation, natural gas and fast-flexing renewable resources (mostly solar and wind energy) complement each other in several sectors of the economy.
This thrust explores a plausible distributed utility framework that is suitable for DERs development and informed by “Utility 2.0” concepts: microgrid development, automated, distributed solar, electric market design innovations, smart grid systems, and big data and analytics. The examples being studied include case studies from United States (i.e., New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), Illinois’s NextGrid and California’s Energy Savings and Performance Incentive), the U.K.’s RIIO (Revenue = Incentives + Innovation + Outputs), Germany’s Energiewende, and Australia’s Electricity Network Transformation Roadmap. These frameworks provide conceptual bases with which to imagine the electric power industry of the future as well as a practical solution to study the potential and future of DERs in other states.