Submitted by Schneider Electric
As we’ve seen in the first two posts in this blog series, prosumers are shaking up the energy world. From homes to businesses and even factories, those who produce as well as consume energy are helping to define the energy landscape of the future.
The pace of change is accelerating as we look increasingly to renewable sources and distributed energy resources (DERs) as fast and effective means of cutting carbon emissions. Industrial processes are rapidly shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. Bloomberg NEF projects 167 million homes and 23 million businesses to be solar users by 2050. In the face of all this disruption and change, what about energy utilities? How can they maintain relevance and profitability, and contribute to greater sustainability?
They will need to adapt. This shift will require increased grid optimization, new services to enable flexibility, and dramatically enhanced engagement with prosumers. Those utilities that move quickest to implement these changes will be best positioned to succeed in a renewable energy future.
In a prosumer landscape, old business models just won’t cut it
The legacy utility business model, of producing power in one place and shipping it out to customers, has reached a pivot point. Now, prosumers are engaging in the system; making their own energy and contributing excess power back into the grid. Utilities must adapt to these changing behaviors and establish new business models that work with—not against—these energy trailblazers.
The growth of distributed energy generation and storage technologies requires a more flexible, intelligent grid capable of managing bidirectional power flows. By adopting a more holistic approach to managing the grid, like offering virtual power plants that aggregate and optimize DER output, utilities can maintain their role as key players in the energy sector.
Along with the new systems of management, utilities will need to develop and offer services that help prosumers manage their energy. That means creating demand response programs, energy management services, and integrating DERs to keep the grid solid and dependable. By welcoming the prosumer movement, utilities can empower their customers to become active participants in energy markets.
Getting interactive with grid resilience and load balancing for prosumers
With more and more prosumers embracing DERs, utilities need to get creative regarding grid management. Enter grid interactive solutions to help utilities leverage DERs to maintain a strong and balanced grid.
Utilities can collaborate with grid solution providers like Uplight, to address the growing need for load management and energy efficiency. Uplight’s tech enables utilities to shift loads during peak usage periods to maintain stability while facilitating the further adoption of renewable energy sources.
Also innovating this space is AutoGrid, whose data-driven technology can help unlock the full potential of renewable energy and DERs. AutoGrid’s Energy Data Platform provides valuable insights to utilities, allowing them to make better-informed decisions about grid operations and DER deployment.
By rolling out demand response programs and integrating DERs, utilities can mitigate peak usage stress and avoid frying the grid. It’s all about keeping the grid steady while maximizing the autonomy of renewable energy prosumers.
Welcoming the prosumer era
All this is to say that prosumers need not be seen solely as a challenge for utilities—they also present a significant, untapped revenue stream in renewable energy management services. By helping prosumers get the most out of their energy production and use, utilities can increase both revenue and customer loyalty.
Offering services like energy storage, microgrid development and energy efficiency consulting will enable utilities to not only survive, but also thrive. Plus, they can hook prosumers up to the grid so they can sell excess energy to utilities or to other prosumers.
Schneider Electric is teaming up with its partners and customers to be their digital, sustainable expert in the energy transition. We’re committed to helping utilities navigate the rapidly-changing world of prosumers and make the best of the challenges and opportunities they represent.
With our expertise in renewable energy, microgrids, and grid management systems, we can help utilities to succeed in the prosumer era. And our vast array of partners and recent investments in companies like AutoGrid and Uplight only enhances our capacity.
By taking a proactive approach to the prosumer revolution and adapting to the changing energy landscape, utilities can play a critical role in creating a cleaner, more sustainable future for us all. Now is the time to harness the power of prosumers and embrace the renewable energy landscape.
Schneider Electric is a European multinational company providing energy and automation digital solutions for efficiency and sustainability.
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