Digitalisation and distributed energy resources are helping to facilitate a new trend of empowered consumers and, provided that governments and regulators allow for it, consumers can play a key role in the "grand energy transition", a new report released by the World Energy Council (WEC) states.
“This is happening at a time when we are seeing a shift in final energy consumption with demand for electricity [to] double globally by 2060,” the ‘World Energy Trilemma 2017: Changing dynamics – Using distributed energy resources to meet the Trilemma challenge’ report notes.
It further outlines that the electricity sector is undergoing change at an unprecedented pace, with the growth in distributed generation enhancing trends in decentralisation and decarbonisation, opening up new opportunities, but also leading to new challenges, for countries to balance the energy trilemma.
The report, which was published by the WEC, in partnership with global consultancy Oliver Wyman, has identified key focus areas for policymakers and industry leaders to consider building a resilient energy system.
“Policy makers need to adapt regulatory frameworks to the new opportunities opened up by decentralisation and to take account of the widening options for energy supply and use.
“While many challenges remain, it is difficult not to be optimistic about the potential for change that has been opened up by decarbonisation, decentralisation and digitalisation in an overall context of electrification of final demand as outlined in the latest energy scenarios published by the WEC,” WEC Energy Trilemma study group chairperson Sir Philip Lowe said in a statement.
He added that decentralisation can empower local communities, firms and local communities, who produce energy through wind and solar installations of their own.
“The recommendations of this report attempt to present policymakers with clear choices and potential solutions to the energy trilemma which are in the interests of society as a whole.”
The report also provided the foundations for discussions at the twenty-third meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP23) to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, in Bonn, Germany, where it was launched.
Speaking ahead of the COP23 meeting, WEC secretary general Christoph Frei said the energy sector was at a transition point and faced a number of growing challenges.
“While the transmission and system operator function will become even more critical, its role and asset base will have to adapt,” he said.
Frei urged governments and regulators to plan for the transition and anticipate its likely impacts on the energy system and market actors.
“Countries that do not take the necessary steps to integrate distributed energy resources will face potential infrastructure redundancies and investment challenges that will adversely affect their energy trilemma performance,” he warned.