Efficient Electrification Creates 'The Big Tent'


And It’s Getting Bigger

PUF 2.0 - February 15, 2018

In the electricity sector today, electrification describes many things that differ, depending on your point of view. Consider: utilities, regulators, technology manufacturers, and utility customers represent dozens of options and agendas. 

As a broad trend, electrification involves the pursuit and appraisal of electric technologies and their use. Examples include transportation, home heating and cooling, giant industrial machines, agriculture, and digital integration and control, to name just a few.

It takes a big tent to hold all the technologies, markets, regulatory and policy initiatives. Electrification's Big Tent ultimately belongs to the customers and their needs and those who best serve those needs. We already see the tent growing to accommodate farmers, drivers, industrialists and more.

Today, EPRI is asking everyone to consider if we can achieve the progress we envision by aligning electrification's many points of view in pursuing both particular and common objectives. 

Can concerted action equip us to understand more quickly how electrification can meet customers' particular needs and improve efficiency, lower costs, and sustainably serve the world's ever-growing energy appetite? Through our Efficient Electrification Initiative, EPRI is investigating this and similar questions. 

In Long Beach, California, this coming August we're hosting the Electrification 2018 International Conference & Exposition as a pivotal part of the initiative. It offers the chance to come inside that Big Tent, and explore the relevant and innovative points of view. 

Imagine, in a brief time, and in a single venue, being able to learn about a wide range of electrification technologies and applications. From cargo handling, to zero-net-energy neighborhoods, to indoor farming, to the new wave of efficient heat pumps that work in cold climates.

Many different grid operation angles will be covered, such as optimizing the grid for charging electric vehicles. That's a complex but welcome opportunity, as we produce electricity more cleanly and serve millions more miles with zero tailpipe emissions. 

In addition to serving particular customers' needs, consumer technologies also can be viewed by grid planners and operators as an opportunity to operate the grid more flexibly, with potential benefits to reliability, efficiency and more.

With respect to the Electrification 2018 International Conference & Exposition and the Efficient Electrification Initiative, our intent is not just show and tell, but to build a broader, common understanding of the progress and development to date, and the work ahead.

Will electrification prove to be "evolutionary or revolutionary" for the customer? Although the word "revolutionary" is overused, it's safe to say that Henry Ford launched a technical-economic-social revolution with his mass-produced Model T. 

He said, "If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person's point of view and see things from that person's angle as well as from your own."

My goal is that by 2020 we will be considering and pursuing electrification from even more perspectives than today. At the same time, we will pursue rigorous, systematic research and development addressing technologies, power system operations, costs and benefits. Especially benefits to us as customers in a period of growing and competing demands.

It's a big tent and getting bigger: More customers realizing more benefits from more technologies in more dynamic and valuable ways than ever before.