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Current± predicts: The energy transition in 2019, part four

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

In the third of a series of predictions pieces running on Current±, Electron’s Joanna Hubbard and redT’s Ed Porter offer their predictions for the energy market in 2019.

Joanna Hubbard, co-founder and COO, Electron

System and network operator conversations shift from physical to digital infrastructure

First on the move here is the newly split ESO, freed from the shackles of its regulated asset base. Gone (or, more accurately, "going") are the days in which market operation means phone calls and faxes. This is the platform generation and its high time energy got on board. DSOs will need to follow suit, with the unavoidable complexity of also having to travel in unison with one another.

Cyber security spend becomes the fastest growing line item for utilities

As the march towards the integration and market inclusion of more and more energy assets and devices continues, it becomes clear just how many new attack vectors are also being presented. Particular areas of focus will be at inverter and VPP dispatch system level. I haven't yet seen many figures on just how much value is at stake here, but I expect to see these stats every where early next year- and they will demand immediate action.

If 2018 was the year of the utility consortia, 2019 will be the year of the interdisciplinary consortia

This is the logical consequence of the above two predictions. New data platforms means new insights, service models, threats etc. Utilities who do not draw on the experience of specialised tech companies will fall behind those who do. Many of us are looking for the digital transformation of the energy industry to be as game changing as the renewable transition. There are so many things that could be done better if we could actually just see what was going on in the grid.

Ed Porter, energy assets director, redT

Market volatility will drive storage

Right now we’re seeing increased volatility in the wholesale market, primarily driven by the increasing share of our generation stack taken up by intermittent renewables, mostly wind and solar, which have very low running costs, forcing out older, more expensive coal and gas capacity.

Now that smarter, cleaner, cheaper forms of electricity generation are coming online, on their own merits and without subsidy, it’s only a matter of time before increasing volatility enables a widespread rollout of energy storage.

Volatility represents a significant opportunity for energy storage. Flexible energy storage assets provide security and mitigate risk while also creating further opportunities in the form of arbitrage and the provision of ancillary services such as frequency response for commercial and industrial energy users.

2019 will see increasing collaboration between energy storage companies and utility companies or aggregators as behind the meter energy storage takes off in a big way here in the UK.

The policy rollercoaster will continue

In 2018, the government removed some barriers to wholesale trading and opened up the market to flexible technology like energy storage but it has been a policy rollercoaster. We’ve witnessed a lot of goalpoasts being moved in the UK and the market has done well to adapt to them. Next year will see the usual host of policy changes which continue to keep the market on its toes.

In an unpredictable policy environment, it makes greater and greater sense to invest in energy storage machines that will create flexibility and allow energy users to adapt to changes and take advantage of opportunities as they arise.


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