Profound technology changes across the electrical grid are ushering in an era of decentralized electrons. This emerging energy cloud landscape, a concept that borrows from cloud computing, represents a range of technical, commercial, environmental, and regulatory changes that challenge the traditional hub-and-spoke grid architecture. Fueling this shift are the steady increase in distributed energy resources (DER) capacity and the continuous expansion of smart grid infrastructure. Both trends point to a future grid that will be far more dynamic, responsive, and democratized than current infrastructures allow. Ultimately, the future grid aims to deliver higher quality power.
While utilities will need to adapt to this evolving landscape through business model transformation and a rethinking of traditional stakeholder engagement strategies, consumers and vendors alike will see unprecedented opportunity to enhance—and in some cases replace—the status quo. At the heart of the energy cloud evolution is a shift toward a market that is more dynamic, responsive, and transparent. The following are key characteristics of this emerging landscape:
- Integration of emerging technologies: DER, building energy management systems (BEMSs), and virtual power plants (VPPs)
- Multiple inputs and users, supporting two-way energy flows
- Digitalization of the electric-mechanical infrastructure
- Complex market structures and transactions
- Liberalization of markets with regulation adapting to a shifting electricity generation mix
This Navigant Research white paper provides insight into the technology shifts that are fueling an energy cloud evolution. It also examines the resulting changes in the traditional utility-consumer relationship and emerging strategies that utilities are taking to both embrace change and thrive in this rapidly evolving environment.
Key Questions Addressed:
- What is the energy cloud?
- What technology trends will shape the evolution of the energy cloud?
- What are the emerging opportunities for energy cloud stakeholders?
- What is the role of the prosumer in the energy cloud?
- How can utilities thrive in the energy cloud?
Who needs this report?
- Grid operators
- Energy management hardware and software vendors
- Smart grid hardware and software vendors
- IT, networking, and telecommunications vendors
- Energy technology manufacturers
- Industry associations and standards organizations
- Investor community
Table of Contents
1. Executive Summary
1.1 Emerging Energy Cloud
2. Defining the Energy Cloud
2.1 The Energy Cloud
2.1.1 Cloud Computing and the Energy Cloud
2.1.2 Visualizing the Energy Cloud
2.2 Energy Cloud Enabling Technologies
2.2.1 DG: Solar Leads the Way
2.2.2 Energy Storage: The Linchpin Resource
2.2.3 BEMSs: Empowering the Consumer
2.2.4 VPPs: The Ultimate Energy Cloud?
3. The Energy Cloud and the Evolving Utility
3.1 Gauging the DG Threat
3.2 Lessons Learned from Telecom
3.3 The Future Utility in the Energy Cloud
3.3.1 Solar PV Combined with Storage Paves the Way
3.3.2 Transactional Energy Trading
3.3.3 Integrated Service Offerings
4. Sustainable Excellence in the Energy Cloud
4.1 The Evolving Stakeholder Ecosystem
4.1.1 The Service Provider Perspective: Maintaining Reliability Across the Grid’s Last Mile
4.1.2 The Custom Perspective: Rise of the Prosumer
4.1.3 The Merging of Industries in the Energy Cloud
4.2 The Future: Open or Closed?
4.3 Conclusions and Recommendations
5. Acronym and Abbreviation List
6. Table of Contents
7. Table of Charts and Figures
8. Scope of Study, Sources and Methodology, Notes
List of Charts and Figures
- Annual Centralized Power Plant and DG Capacity Additions and Vendor Revenue, World Markets: 2014-2023
- Smart Meter Penetration Rate of All Electric Meters by Region, World Markets: 2013-2023
- The Energy Cloud Evolution from Centralized and Distributed Generation
- The Energy Cloud: Today and Tomorrow
- The Energy Cloud Technology Landscape
List of Tables
- Utility SWOT in the Energy Cloud