Positioning to capture opportunities from the next wave of distribution services

November 16th, 2016, Published in Articles: EE Publishers, Articles: Energize


As the electricity grid of the future takes shape, distribution utilities want to extract full value from their investments in smart technologies. This will mean creating a truly efficient grid by optimising the smart network itself, while also harnessing a wide array of distributed energy resources (DER) and flexibility from customer participation.

This is an overview of the report

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coverAs a result, close to half of utilities industry leaders globally now recognise the current distribution model must change. In choosing a new model, distribution utilities have four choices, each of which brings its own opportunities to sell value-adding services.

The way forward: The distribution platform optimiser

The prize for achieving this engagement and participation is substantial. Put simply, it will help to create a grid that is more reliable, resilient, flexible, efficient and cost-effective. And fortunately, the ability to deliver this is within utilities’ own control.

Accenture believes the distribution platform optimiser is likely the most sustainable model for the future of the utility industry, managing and coordinating all elements of the grid end to end to produce the optimal outcome for the overall system. Accenture’s “digitally enabled grid” research confirms utilities assertion that the industry is turning toward the distribution platform optimiser-type model.

The distribution platform optimiser structure will be predicated on an array of new grid services:

  • The first service area is market services: creating a market framework for commercial decisions on asset operations
  • The second service area is the set of network optimisation services offered to support grid operations in real time
  • The third service area is a broad set of asset deployment services available to customers deploying distributed energy resources

Most utility executives expect the market model to be a blend of competitive and regulated mechanisms in the next ten years.

Smart inverters: A key piece of the smarter grid jigsaw

Whatever grid services distribution platform optimisers choose to offer, a vital enabler will be the implementation of smart inverters alongside storage or small-scale distributed generation, as a way to provide and manage the necessary control signals and response monitoring.

To be defined as “smart”, an inverter needs to have a digital architecture, bidirectional communications capabilities, and sophisticated software infrastructure. As a result, the inverter can become a valuable tool for utilities to use for optimising the delivery network as well as an opportunity for the customer to earn additional revenue.

Advanced smart technologies are delivering flexibility to distributed generators, the distribution network and to customers. It is by harnessing this flexibility that the smart grid will truly deliver on its promise.

Accenture believes that the new role of the distribution platform optimiser will provide an excellent basis to deliver on this potential—and that in tandem will come a need to develop a broad set of new business services. As a result, distribution businesses could be well positioned to secure a significant share of these services, both in the regulated and competitive domains.

Read the full report here


This overview is published here with permission.

Contact Guy Cantwell, Accenture, guy.cantwell@accenture.com




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