Electric Grid Stalled by Outdated Technology, New Approaches Push for Just Energy Transition

Explore how digitalization and customer-focused engagement drive a fair transition to advanced, equitable energy systems.

Harold Thompson


Harold Thompson


Mar 6, 2024

Electric Grid Stalled by Outdated Technology, New Approaches Push for Just Energy Transition

Electric Grid Stalled by Outdated Technology, New Approaches Push for Just Energy Transition

Charlotte Johnson, the Global Head of Markets at Kraken Technologies, recently outlined a pathway towards a more just and efficient energy future. In a piece originally written for Utility Dive, the focus of Charlotte's message is on the pressing need for digital transformation within the grid to support a projected wave of decentralized energy resources. Amidst an era of growing interest in renewable energy and smart technologies, the grid, as it currently stands, is bound by aging infrastructure, challenging the transition to cleaner, smarter energy systems.

As utilities and regulators grapple with the need for significant capital investments to upgrade their networks, they are constrained by legacy systems that were never designed for today's bidirectional, decentralized energy landscapes. This reality underscores the potential savings digitalization could usher in—an estimated $1.8 trillion in deferred network investment by 2050 according to a Kevala study. Johnson identifies four tech priorities that can support a seamless transformation: grid digitalization, holistic tech platforms, data-driven asset orchestration, and a consumer-centric approach.

The Urgent Need for a Digitalized Grid

The energy sector is facing a bottleneck due to outmoded technology that struggles to accommodate the influx of distributed energy resources (DERs). A notable example is the 2020 FERC Order 2222, which demands the integration of DERs into wholesale power markets. The slow compliance by grid operators reflects the underlying issue: a technological framework that is unsuited for current demands. This scenario is not unique to the US; it echoes globally, revealing a shared struggle in adapting to newer, smaller-scale generation models.

A Turn to Integrated Technological Solutions

Evoking the disruptive force of the internet over the past two decades, Johnson looks to a future where energy systems mirror this impact through cohesive, agile, and innovative platforms. The call is for an accelerated departure from disintegrated systems towards ones that can adapt to market fluctuations, network requirements, and consumer behavior. This holistic approach demands not just new technologies but new methods of interaction with energy infrastructures at all levels.

Data Orchestration and Customer-Centric Systems

With millions of individual assets coming onto the grid, from electric vehicles to smart thermostats, data becomes the cornerstone of modern grid management. To harness these assets while maintaining cost-effectiveness, operators require data analytics to inform actions like smoothing peak demands and integrating renewable sources. Similarly, the final priority stresses the importance of rethinking the relationship with consumers. Technology, in a supporting role, should streamline incentives for customers engaging with the grid, fostering a system where technologies and human behavior align towards sustainability.

In summary, this interplay of digitalization and customer engagement is not merely about adopting new technologies—it's about restructuring the energy sector to pivot from present constraints to future possibilities. The time is ripe for an overhaul, where industry lessons merge with cutting-edge digital tools, to navigate the most transformative period in energy management history. Kraken Technologies’ full spectrum of energy solutions embodies this tech-centric vision for a cleaner, more equitable energy future, ready to be deployed for the challenges ahead.

Source: Utility Dive

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