Key changes for SCE include recognizing the increasing diversity of different regions’ needs and moving from uniform grid architectures to more region-specific, modular grid designs.
According to Reimagining the Grid, a new white paper published by Southern California Edison (SCE), fundamental changes in how the electric power grid is planned, designed, built and operated are necessary to meet future challenges that are arriving bearing down on us today.
SCE says those challenges coming about due to changes in electricity use and in the sources of energy connected to the grid, including greatly expanded use of electric vehicles (EVs) and growth in large-scale solar power and energy storage. While these new technologies are indeed fundamental to California’s clean energy future, the challenges they create are dire, said SCE, adding that even though technologies are being developed that help strengthen and modernize the grid, the underlying design and architecture of the grid have not evolved at the same pace.
“Just as Pathway 2045 is SCE’s roadmap for enabling a clean energy future for California, Reimagining the Grid is a comprehensive assessment to address how the grid must change,” said Kevin Payne, president and CEO of SCE. “We are working to make sure the electric system is ready for the major shifts in how customers will use electricity to support California’s ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals.”
The white paper points out that a significant increase in EVs and distributed energy resources (DER) such as customer-sited solar and battery storage — paired with the growth of large-scale renewable energy resources that are more variable in nature — will require the electric grid to manage a growing set of challenges.
Further, the changing climate is affecting customers’ power usage patterns, as well as the availability of energy resources, including energy imported from other states whose own power needs are changing. Climate-change effects also could diminish the performance, reliability and lifespan of grid equipment.
“As electricity fuels a larger part of the economy, we must reimagine what the grid should look like in the future and how it will need to function in new ways to meet expanded needs,” Payne added.
“Our approach needs to shift from a focus on system-wide reliability standards to one that meets multiple objectives based on specific, localized needs,” said Payne. Key changes for SCE include recognizing the increasing diversity of different regions’ needs and moving from uniform grid architectures to more region-specific, modular grid designs.
The grid’s technological capabilities will need to be reimagined and include many advanced technologies including:
- advanced sensors,
- high-speed/high-volume communications,
- edge computing, and
- predictive analytics and artificial intelligence.
SCE foresees integrating information/operational technologies into a common, shared operating platform deployed across the system, with advanced cybersecurity and the ability to seamlessly package and deploy future technologies and hardware for location-specific needs.
SCE is working today to strengthen its ability to anticipate changes, accelerate critical technologies and enhance our planning tools and processes. “We cannot do this alone” Payne said. “Stronger alignment, broader reach and deeper collaboration with stakeholders will be key for future grid designs, standards and infrastructure planning.”
Reimagining the Grid is online: https://www.edison.com/ReimaginingtheGrid.