Against this backdrop, the power industry is rapidly evolving, driven by a combination of technology and policy. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, renewable sources accounted for more than half of global electricity capacity additions in 2013—a historical first. As costs for these technologies continue to fall, renewable generation is becoming economically viable not just for utilities, but also for end-users. The Department of Energy estimates that residential distributed generation systems could account for 70 gigawatts of U.S. electric generating capacity by 2040.
Yet maintaining growth in market share for variable electricity sources such as wind and solar will ultimately hinge on access to cost-effective energy storage. The combination of distributed generation and affordable storage—whether through a fixed asset or onboard storage in a plug-in electric vehicle—has the potential to change what it means to be an energy consumer and also to be significantly disruptive to the traditional utility business model.
What does this mean for the future of the electricity sector? How will utilities efficiently incorporate renewable electricity production? In what ways will they evolve and adapt? What new business models and regulations will emerge? The answers to these questions could have profound implications for consumers, utilities and their regulators worldwide. EPIC-affiliated researchers are exploring these and other issues related to electricity markets in depth.