Energy Transition Overview
Society is changing and many countries are moving away from the notion of large centralized energy and more towards local sustainable initiatives. Global goals are set towards a sustainable and CO2-emission free energy system and embraced by the industry. The traditional dilemma of Low Cost vs. High Security of Supply is rapidly transforming into a trilemma, with Low Carbon Footprint as a new stakeholder demand.
Changes in business practices due to the Internet of Things, Big Data and Robotics serve to further accentuate the need for business transformation. These quick and dramatic changes have a major effect on the energy and utility market. Not only will the entire value chain be impacted by the decentralized feed of “green power”, the advent of energy storage capabilities will be a disruptive “game changer”. Large scale batteries, The Smart Grid and The Hydrogen Economy are just a few of the initiatives that we see gaining a tremendous amount of traction.
Understanding and Navigating the Decarbonization Movement as an Energy Provider
The movement toward decarbonization is now an inexorable force, whether you are a believer in climate change or not. Actions need to be taken now to be able to meet the decarbonization goals of the future. Ultimately, the outcome of the movement is to decarbonize society by 2050, and in all likelihood there will be pressure to accelerate the timeframe.
Many nations, with widespread government acceptance and support, will get there sooner than others. Some countries may encounter greater resistance and a less straightforward path to achieving their decarbonization goals.
For example, the United States, with its relatively polarized political system and litigious society, will most likely move more slowly than the evolving beliefs of its citizenry. Certain state governments will resist the decarbonization movement and constrain the ability of federal legislators to mandate change by tying up legislation with lengthy court cases.
With or without government intervention and mandates, large corporations and manufacturers will enact change by simply responding to societal pressures. They will continue to drive the creation of sustainable or more environmentally friendly products and improve affordability of alternative technologies, such as Electric Vehicles. The trends that we see across the world are likely to drive even the United States to a minimum 20% EV penetration by later this decade.
Similarly, declines in technology costs of solar panels and batteries will increase the penetration of distributed resources throughout electric distribution networks, forcing new waves of investment in operating flexibility and situational awareness systems.
Energy Providers need to be preparing now for this new future.
Have you explored the impacts to your operating practices?
For example, utility operators will need to monitor and anticipate cloud cover on local rooftop solar. They will have to track EVs plugged into the network, understand battery charging consumption, and compute the expected draw down on backup power for the circuit. Battery storage technologies will come online almost instantaneously for more isolated areas of the service territory, driving spikes in demand. These are only a few examples of what to expect.
A better understanding of future load and capacity constraints and the introduction of new monitoring and control systems of electrical assets is paramount, especially as customers and regulators become even more intolerant of outages, with durations as low as 1 minute often being counted against reliability performance targets.
The changes are coming. Utilities will need to bend, flex, and even substantially modify their current view of “normal”, especially with regard to operating and spending practices. There are both challenges and great opportunities ahead.
Electricity consumption is expected to more than double over next 15 years as we see electrification of transportation and facilities. That revenue stream will largely shift away from the oil and gas traditionally used to power those applications into the electricity industry.
These new revenues will enable electric utilities to make the necessary investments to increase load delivery.
As mentioned, latest estimates of EV Penetration indicate increases of up to 20% for many utilities. But, with initial impact targeting only 15% of system feeders due to customer psychographics and buying habits, we could see a potential tripling of the peak load on these assets. Research suggests that a cost of $3000-4000 per retail customer (or over $7B for a utility with 2 million customers) will be necessary to accommodate these upgrades.
Is your company making the RIGHT decisions to manage this upsurge in investment and construction?
Preparations need to start now.
Let Us Help You Lead the Way Forward
An acceleration of the energy transition in the coming decade is inevitable. The world’s energy systems are experiencing monumental shifts in technological development, regulations, consumer preferences, and investor sentiments. As industry experts for over 30 years, UMS Group can bring you the research and data-based ideas, suggestions, and, above all, competence in helping you to achieve major milestones along your Energy Transition journey. Whether you are focused on a singular concern, such as evaluating EV Penetration and circuit load impact, or holistically working to become a “Utility of the Future”, our well tenured team we will be there every step of the way to guide you along the quickest path to success.
Planning for the Future: Are You Ready for the New Risks and Challenges Ahead?
Market, system and regulatory dimensions of the utility business, all intertwined, are changing in response to a range of strategic drivers, thus creating a complex array of options and demands for a major business transformation. The resulting ambiguity challenges the confidence and ability of utility management to plan, set priorities and make decisions about the future, given a host of seemingly conflicting, yet interrelated initiatives.
Utilities must identify the risks and opportunities associated with:
These major shifts in the industry are causing the need for re-thinking strategies in the board rooms. However the technicians still have to deal with the same “old” installed asset base. This is causing significant gaps between board room strategy development and the day to day actions and decisions.
For example, Electricity Utilities in Germany have seen a gradual ‘spikier’ demand profile due to intermittent power sources. This caused the need for revision of their dispatch models, including interaction with plants (costs/value of ramp rates, secondary reserve, reducing min. load, etc.). Coal loses its position as baseload source, where the latest Closed Cycle Gas Turbines are being used to provide security in a volatile energy system.
Utilities will also need to address how Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data will influence current business models.
Our industry experts have made it their personal goal to support organizations in this transition. If you are just getting started, we recommend focusing on these four “No-Regrets” Moves.
Becoming a ‘Utility of the Future’: How to Define a Successful Path Forward?
- OPEX Pressure
- De-layer and De-staff
- Eliminate Work, Automate, Optimize Planning & Scheduling
- Leverage Artificial Intelligence to Automate Decisions
- Asset Management
- Operational Efficiency
- Green Subsidies
- DER Proliferation – Solar & Battery
- Electrification (EV’s)
- Energy Efficiency (LED’s, ZFH’s, etc.)
- Wind Investments, Coal Retirements
- Demand Management
- Leverage Operational Analytics & Big Data
- Strengthen Situational Awareness
- Real-time Asset Management
- Build Predictive Analytics
- Optimize Reliability and Power Quality
- Community Aggregators
- Embrance Contestability
- Outsource – Match Cost Structure to Market Value of Skills
- Block Chain to Empower Prosumers
- New Skills/Staffing Strategies
- Accelerate Depreciation
- Infrastructure Consolidation and Removal
- Shift Focus to Beyond-The-Meter Services
- Require All New Capital to Be Bid
- Drive Toward Lower Cost-of-Capital Investors
- Non-Regulated Activities
- Asset Mgmt for Others
- Beyond the Meter Services
- Integrated Storage
- Tools/Tech Investments
- Leverage Energy Information
- Wind Park Maintenance
Credit: Phil Caffyn, Utility Consultants & UMS Group
This may look like a pretty dismal future to many – continual cost cutting, fewer staff, constant performance pressure, gradual unbundling and loss of autonomy, shrinking business, and living in a fishbowl where our every move is second guessed by others.
We can try to resist it, or at least delay it as long as possible, but the forces driving it are powerful and will eventually have their way.
For those of us owned by the Government, this may be exactly what our owners want us to do, and we may have little choice in the matter. But, for those of us with shareholders, who expect us to continue to innovate and increase earnings for them, what can we do?
We need to carefully consider all 17D’s and start to take action now, so that we can earn the opportunity to create greater future potential in this rapidly transitioning industry.
How We Can Help Accelerate Your Energy Transition Journey
Over the past 5 years, UMS Group has built a strong team of knowledgeable experts focused on the Energy Transition & ‘UoF’ Strategy and Planning. In recent years, we have conducted numerous ‘UoF’ Readiness and Planning Engagements & can offer the following services:
Readiness Assessment & Recommendations
To determine where organizations stand in light of the energy transition, UMS Group can support by performing a comprehensive review of their environment and current strategy.
At UMS Group we are able to support businesses to assess their current standing in light of the Energy Transition. By reviewing your environment, current strategy, asset base, data management and workforce, and identifying and prioritizing gaps, we can help you to first focus on the quick wins and then calibrated long term improvements.
“To know where you need to go you must first know where you stand.”
A typical Readiness Assessment consists of a comprehensive review of latest thinking on drivers and factors for consideration, strategic planning analysis, documents and plans to identify any gaps in the underlying data, and peer benchmark assessments. This creates a well defined end-state in the form of required capabilities and a list of Strategic Gaps (Vision, strategy and capabilities).
Gap Assessment Drill-down: Strategic Thinking
Strategy Development & Stakeholder Messaging
Establishing a clear ET strategy is key for any utility striving to become a Utility of the Future. In over twenty-five years of business, we have helped develop and implement strategies on a global scale.
We have helped numerous companies by constructing Strategy white papers that serve as a vehicle to organize thinking, priorities and actions / investments of the organization, as well as to communicate strategic intent to all relevant internal and external stakeholders.
The white papers play a large role in socializing strategies with the executive team and identifying accountabilities among executives. Our team of industry experts has supported numerous engagements to drive Executive Strategy with regard to Business and Market Evolution. We will work to ensure an optimal blend of industry relevance and strategic insight.
We can also help build strategic messaging documents, informed by executive alignment meetings and workshops, that can serve as a vehicle to organize the thinking, priorities and actions of the organization around communicating your strategic intent to all relevant (internal and external) stakeholders.
Would you prefer to have a sparring partner to explore and validate ideas and issues regarding your Energy Transition Strategy? Through one-on-one ‘UMS Group Counseling Sessions” you have the opportunity to gain clarity on your issues and to examine these against a wider global context. Get in touch with one of our experts now.
Comprehensive Implementation Plan Development
We see it as our mission to close the gap between strategy and operations. We support and guide companies into reaching their goals and fulfilling their missions. To help navigate companies on their ET route, UMS Group develops Roadmaps and Implementation Plans to support you in reaching your sustainability and transformation goals.
Setting your strategies and goals is a great starting point to becoming a Utility of the Future. We help to build detailed roadmaps and comprehensive implementation plans which lay out required actions, organizational accountabilities for each major initiative or outcome, dependencies between actions, work streams, required investments, and expected outcomes.
A typical roadmap will consist of clear and concise steps plotted over a set timeline to deliver a multi-year strategy. Each step tells you what it is, why it is needed, critical aspects for consideration, and who owns it- with specific title and name. Creating accountability results in urgency.
Sample of Future State Vision Statements as Input to the Strategic Roadmap
Prior to roadmap creation, we recommend establishing detailed “Future State Vision Statements”. These will help to guide and formulate the overall Strategic Roadmap, which will consist of clear and concise steps plotted over a set timeline to deliver a multi-year strategy. Each step tells you what it is, why it is needed, critical aspects for consideration, and who owns it- with specific title and name. Creating accountability results in urgency.
Sample of Utility-of-the-Future Implementation Plan Excerpt
A detailed Implementation Plan, in support of the Overall Strategic Roadmap, should consider key external and internal factors such as:
- Workforce-of-the-Future initiatives, etc.
At a minimum, the plan will include the following components:
Change Management Support
Change Management strategy and planning is crucial in any large scale transformation like becoming a “Utility of the Future”. UMS Group has over 30 years of experience in supporting key change areas and enablers of a smooth transition.
The level of change needed for becoming a Utility of the Future during this Energy Transition is nothing short of “Transformational”. Coordinating, navigating, organizing and driving all this work represents, in and of itself, an exceptional project management challenge. However, when we layer atop each initiative the level of change required of our employees, i.e. understanding and accepting the impact to process, culture, information flows and work practices, and the myriad personnel changes involved, the complexity seems extraordinary. At UMS Group, we understand this challenge and can help you navigate through it with ease.
Change Management strategy and planning is crucial in a transformation like this. UMS Group can support key change areas and enablers such as:
UMS Group also offers coaching and training options to broaden and deepen your awareness and knowledge of responsibilities regarding the Energy Transition. Together, we can identify company implications and pitfalls and formulate a plan of action. We can educate board members on potential impacts throughout the organizations and suggest best practices for implementing a successful transition from current to future business models. Bottom line: We can help manage change.
Would you rather prefer to have a sparring partner to explore and validate ideas about issues regarding your strategy in the Energy Transition? Through one-on-one counseling sessions you have the possibility to get a clear picture of your issues and to examine these against a wider context then your own organization. Get in touch with one of our experts now.
Smaller, Targeted Projects or Initiatives
These smaller, targeted projects are usually focused on a single topic for investigation or to provide analytic modeling and/or decision-making support within the broader Energy Transition context. Examples include: Utility of the Future Fossil Exit/Transition Optimization, DER/Electric Vehicle Penetration Advanced Modeling, Custom Modeling / Proof of Value Studies, Capturing Value from Pilots, Data Enhancement and Enrichment, etc.
These smaller, targeted projects are usually focused on a single topic for investigation or to provide analytic modeling and/or decision-making support within the broader Energy Transition context. Examples include:
Utility of the Future Fossil Exit/Transition Optimization
program considering costs, risk, resources, and timing of various scenarios as well as communication strategies.
DER/Electric Vehicle Penetration Advanced Modeling
- As an example, EVs are coming sooner than most utilities are planning for them to arrive and they will disrupt the distribution grid by several multiples above the current planning levels. By starting at the customer meter level, we can help predict “where and when” needs for circuit upgrades, capacity upgrades, and new distribution substations to be ready for the demand when it comes online.
Custom Modeling / Proof of Value Studies
- Improve your digitalization capabilities via our existing digital solutions (digital strategies, advanced modeling, asset management and reliability improvement software, and data services) using a process-based gated approach to pilot or full implementation.
Capturing Value from Pilots
- Support in areas such as analyzing the value case, prioritizing amongst initiatives, and conducting effective rollout processes of selected pilot initiatives.
Data Enhancement and Enrichment
Total Added EV Load by Year and Cumulative
Data Enhancement and Enrichment: Example visualization of a client transmission line – showing each structure and its sequenced path, overlaid with an OH line shape file. This was primarily used for checking for data quality issues. Sample data with span length shown as well.
Client Case Study Examples
Case Study 1: Creating a Multi-scenario Roadmap to 2050 for a Mid-Sized Canadian Utility
- UMS Group performed a comprehensive review of the company’s strategic planning analysis, documents and plans to identify any gaps in the underlying data, analysis, thinking or drivers and factors considered.
- We also conducted wide ranging interviews across the organization’s Executives, Directors and relevant Subject Matter Experts to assess the current state of organizational capabilities in strategic thinking, issue identification/evaluation and decision-making.
- We then worked with the Strategy group within Finance to assemble a comprehensive action plan (with tasks, actions, deliverables, timelines and ownership / accountabilities) for use in monitoring / managing plan execution over the next 5 years.
- Finally, we created several Toward 2050 Scenarios to focus the thinking and discussions of the Executive Team and to aid in strengthening alignment across the group on near term strategic priorities for the organization.
Case Study 2: Building a Utility of the Future Strategy and Plan for a Large Northeast US Gas & Electric Utility
UMS Group supported the development of a Utility-of-the-Future (“UoF”) Strategy and Plan that offers a dynamically evolving guiding document to lead our client into the future. It sets the stage for an operational plan with individual accountabilities specified for each major milestone / investment growth enabler and targeted outcome. The Strategy document:
- Provides a foundation for understanding the current direction and drivers of change in the utility industry,
- Defines the core values and principles of the utility, which will guide its focus, efforts and plans for navigating these drivers, and
- Articulates the utility’s goals and commitments – both for how it will operate the business and achieve the clean, safe and affordable energy and other related outcomes to which it aspires
Key elements of the above initiatives set the stage for the company’s compliance with the State’s Energy Master Plan and development of a complementary Integrated Distribution Plan (IDP).
Get In Touch With Our Experts
The magnitude of change to come with the Energy Transition and decarbonization efforts will require sustainable partnerships and engagement throughout the entire value chain proposition. At UMS Group, we acknowledge the necessity of global knowledge-sharing and are known for facilitating this.
We are one of the few utility-specialized consulting firms already working extensively with clients on their path to becoming Energy Transition ready:
- We have helped utility clients prepare for the future for more than 30 years
- We are able to quickly and capably analyze & assess client needs
- We assemble Best Practices and turn them into World-Class Solutions
- We engage with our clients around the world, via our Global Learning Consortia, Tools & Data Services and Consulting Advisory Services, to implement these “best in class” products and solutions at much lower cost and faster schedule than industry standard
Fast-Track Your Transition Now
Insights In Your Inbox
Receive perspectives on the industries and issues that matter.