The Rise of the Energy Cloud Signals a Fundamental Shift in the Power Sector

April 16, 2015

The spread of distributed generation offers both challenges and opportunities for incumbent utilities, white paper finds

A new white paper from Navigant Research analyzes the emerging energy cloud, describing its basic elements and examining its impact on the power utility sector.

Moving from a centralized hub-and-spoke grid architecture based on large centralized generation assets toward an increasingly decentralized electrical grid that makes extensive use of distributed energy resources (DERs), the power sector is undergoing sweeping changes. These changes can be summarized as the rise of the energy cloud: a decentralized architecture based on intelligent network technology and two-way energy flows, encompassing a diverse suite of technologies that includes energy storage, virtual power plants, demand response (DR), and advanced software that enables greater interoperability across heterogeneous grid elements. Click to tweet: According to a new white paper from Navigant Research, the end result of this transformation expected to be a fundamental reimagining of how we generate, store, and consume energy in the next 20 years.

A full copy of the white paper, which is part of the Energy Cloud Report Bundle, is available for download from the Navigant Research website.

“As a vehicle for advanced technologies and solution integration on the electrical grid, the energy cloud represents a far more dynamic, responsive, and democratized network than today’s hub-and-spoke architecture,” says Mackinnon Lawrence, senior research director with Navigant Research. “Although the cloud is not a complete replacement for current grid infrastructure, today’s electric utilities will need to be more flexible than current regulatory models allow and remain nimble to prosper in an increasingly competitive marketplace.”

Although the rapid spread of distributed generation provides many benefits to the grid and to energy consumers, it also poses complex challenges for utilities and grid operators, according to the white paper. Many utilities have expressed legitimate concerns about declining revenue due to the increasing penetration of DERs and energy efficiency measures. At the same time, the emergence of the energy cloud provides opportunities for forward-looking utilities to capitalize on the rapidly changing landscape.

The white paper, The Energy Cloud, analyzes the emerging energy cloud, describing its basic elements and examining its likely impact on the power utility sector. The growth in the deployment of key technologies like distributed solar PV, energy storage, and virtual power plants (VPPs) is profiled in order to demonstrate both the velocity and scale of an evolutionary shift toward the energy cloud. A discussion around how this paradigm shift is expected to affect the traditional utility-consumer relationship offers insight into challenges facing utilities as their customers embrace distributed generation (DG) and opportunities provided by new entrants to engage more proactively in the market. Finally, the paper explores the emerging strategies that utilities are taking to both embrace change and thrive in this evolving environment. The full white paper is available for free download on the Navigant Research website.

Representing a catalogue of more than 200 individual research reports, Navigant Research’s Energy Cloud Report Bundle provides clients with comprehensive coverage of this evolving technology landscape. For more information, please contact

Contact: Richard Martin


* The information contained in this press release concerning the report, The Energy Cloud, is a summary and reflects Navigant Research’s current expectations based on market data and trend analysis. Market predictions and expectations are inherently uncertain and actual results may differ materially from those contained in this press release or the report. Please refer to the full report for a complete understanding of the assumptions underlying the report’s conclusions and the methodologies used to create the report. Neither Navigant Research nor Navigant undertakes any obligation to update any of the information contained in this press release or the report.

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