The Electric Power Research Institute introduced a pathway to a more efficient, reliable and productive energy system during meetings of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners in Washington, D.C. The unveiling included key actions – technology development, policy, regulation and standards – to make that future a reality.
EPRI president and CEO Michael Howard cited the need for greater integration of all energy resources, a concept that the institute calls the Integrated Energy Network. “The Integrated Energy Network envisions a future in which customers have flexibility to use, produce and manage energy, while having increased access to reliable, safe, affordable and cleaner power for all. To achieve this future requires an integrated view of energy and natural resources – looking beyond just electricity.
“Our systems for managing energy and natural resources are increasingly interconnected. Yet these systems remain largely separate with respect to strategy, management and operations. Technological change is amplifying the cost of failing to integrate these systems. We offer our report to stimulate new thinking about the future energy system,” he said.
At its core, the Integrated Energy Network:
· Recognizes the increasing interdependency between and among electric, gas, thermal systems, storage and natural resources.
· Identifies wireless connected technologies–including information, communications, sensors, data analysis and modeling–as instrumental in integrated energy systems, in addition to investments in these “connected” technologies that can drive rapid advances essential for efficient operations of energy systems.
· Focuses on enabling customers to better generate, deliver, use, control and monitor their energy use to make more informed economic and “comfort” decisions. This includes end-use of energy and energy services such as heating, lighting, transportation and industrial automation.
· Builds upon the backbone infrastructure established by the Integrated Grid, which enables the optimal integration of cleaner central and distributed generation, including effective power system capacity, flexibility, resiliency, efficiency and environmental sustainability.
· Points to efficient electrification emerging as a cornerstone for environmental improvement in addition to its potential to lower customers’ costs, increase productivity, improve product quality and provide a cleaner, safer work environment.
· Observes that global collaboration in science and technology innovation, demonstrations and thought leadership are key to successfully navigating a rapidly changing, increasingly complex, multi-dimensional global energy sector.
“The Integrated Energy Network recognizes the interdependence of the electric sector with a broader infrastructure network,” Howard added. “As a result of this assessment, EPRI will pursue this pathway through global collaboration, thought leadership and science and technology innovation.”