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The Carbon-Smart Grid

Network intelligence yields green returns.

Fortnightly Magazine - October 2008

valuable energy products and services beyond delivery of electricity.

Transition Opportunities

Notwithstanding the atmospheric benefits of lower GHG emissions stemming from a more efficient T&D network, it’s clear that the smart grid, through the three mechanisms outlined above, holds the potential to create real, tangible carbon value for utilities. Less clear is the magnitude of this value, as it’s inherently tied to the constantly evolving policies that assign a cost to carbon emissions. Despite uncertainty, experience suggests that early action and prudent investments will yield greater benefits and mitigate more risk than delayed action or inaction.

Moreover, the continued focus on higher energy costs and concerns associated with climate change fundamentally will change the way utilities interact with their customers, as demand increases for lower energy consuming products and services. The competitive landscape in the energy industry will be reshaped—creating new opportunities and risks for the incumbent utilities. The utility-customer interface will continue to evolve beyond simply delivering electricity and sending customers a bill, as utilities seek to enhance their relationship with customers by improving the efficiency of electricity consumption. Capturing value in these new and emerging markets involves creating a richer, smarter customer experience, which smart-grid technologies can facilitate. Entirely new market opportunities will be realized around products that are transitioning away from other sources of energy, but this requires innovation and conception of new business models capable of unlocking the value these new markets hold.