Envisaging the future energy world
22 May 2019
What will the energy future look like? Governments have set targets for the generation mix over the coming decades and consumers are already demonstrating their desire for a low carbon future by purchasing more and more low carbon technologies, including the likes of domestic solar PV panels and electric vehicles. The wider industry needs to adapt to accommodate these changes and to bring optimum outcomes for society at large. To achieve this transformation the industry can choose between a number of viable frameworks.
EA Technology has played a key role in national projects in the UK and in Australia (Open Networks and Open Energy Networks). We have developed a practical process for envisioning the way forward which starts with facilitated workshops – gathering input from stakeholders up and down the energy value chain. Participants include representatives from consumer advocate groups, generators, distribution and transmission companies, regulatory bodies, new energy technology companies, academics and others. At mixed roundtables, the stakeholders are led to openly discuss the functions and the activities of the framework in question.
The information from the first stage is processed and developed into a model based on the Smart Grid Architecture Model (SGAM). The SGAM represents a standard way to show:
• Each stakeholder,
• The stakeholder (or ‘actor’) business goals,
• The stakeholder (or ‘actor’) interactions with other actors,
• The function, activity, process hierarchy,
• Each step-by-step process.
By processing each framework specification into an SGAM, stakeholders can visually and intuitively explore and understand the functionality required of the various players in the sector to fulfil the aims of each potential framework. The models act as a basis for conversations across teams, departments, organisations and the wider industry.
To help stakeholders draw additional value from the models, in both the UK and Australian projects, EA Technology has run two types of analysis which assist in the decision-making process particularly around next steps and the optimum framework.
The first analysis, ‘foundational elements’, compares the pathways available for the transition. It is used to identify regions of ‘full convergence’ where the functional specifications of the considered frameworks overlap. Within this overlap actions exist that can be implemented in the short-term to assist the transition irrespective of the ultimate pathway that manifests.
The second analysis is known as the the complexity analysis and delivers a proxy indication to the relative difficulty of implementing each of the frameworks. This in turn gives an indication as to the variation in potential implementation costs and the risks associated with the level of effort.
The process described here is an essential first step for the industry’s transition to a state with more low carbon technologies and distributed energy resources. As new information comes to light the models need to undergo a governance process in order to keep them up-to-date. Individual companies may also wish to apply the models to their own businesses, at the same time taking the models down to the next layer of detail, to help them determine a roadmap for their own transition.