It is clear that the energy systems of the future will need to give customers the flexibility to use, produce and manage energy as they choose, while improving access to reliable, safe, affordable and cleaner energy for all. To achieve this future requires an integrated view of energy and natural resources. It is also clear that the systems for managing energy and natural resources are increasingly interconnected and yet remain largely separate with respect to strategy, management and operations. Technological change is amplifying the cost of failing to integrate these systems.
This is the thinking behind the essential insight of the Integrated Energy Network (IEN), developed over the last two years by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) in the USA, and building on many years of thought leadership in related issues. This intensive examining of the forces changing the world’s energy systems culminated in EPRI’s report ‘The Integrated Energy Network – Connecting Customers with Reliable, Safe, Affordable, and Cleaner Energy’ published in February (see the summary here).
In considering the complex, multi-dimensional global energy sector, the IEN examines its systems from three perspectives:
- Using affordable, cleaner energy – through efficiency and electrification. From this perspective, consumer desires for reliable, affordable, cleaner energy combine with expanded choice and control. The pace of electrification accelerates as electricity use provides a cleaner energy alternative, while remaining affordable and reliable. Improved energy efficiency results from both environmental stewardship and advances in consumer technologies.
- Producing cleaner energy – through more efficient and environmentally sustainable and flexible generation. Energy service providers reduce costs and environmental footprint while operating more flexibly, leading to wider use of electricity as an energy carrier. Renewable energy plays a growing role, and hydrogen potentially emerges to meet some energy needs.
- Integrating Energy Resources – through new control technologies, communications, standards and markets. Improved control of electric systems, coupled with communication and security protocols and online systems, support interoperability of connected systems. Integration of distributed generation and the grid improve system productivity and flexibility. This enables broader, coordinated management and control of energy and other resources that improves reliability and efficiency. Electricity emerges as the central, essential means to improved energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.
Overall, this report and the concept it develops has many resonances for IFRF members and fossil fuels and biomass combustion/conversion, and is well worth a read through.
To hear more – an open invitation:
For those that want to hear more about the IEN and can make it to London on 2nd October, the Biomass & Fossil Fuel Research Alliance (BF2RA) are inviting anyone with an interest to attend the 66th Energy Science Lecture where Dr Arshad Mansoor, Senior Vice President of Research and Development at EPRI will present a lecture on the IEN concept, highlighting insights from this work with implications for research and infrastructure development. The lecture (organised and funded by BF2RA, with a sponsorship contribution from the Fuel and Energy Research Forum – FERF) will take place at Prince Philip House, 3 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5DG at 14:14 on Monday 2nd October, preceded by a buffet lunch from 13:00 for all those attending the lecture. Attendance will be by e-ticket only, which will be emailed on application to firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information click here.