Session 10: The Future, Decentralized Power Grid: Implications for Utilities and Energy Consumers

May 8th, 2018

The share of renewable electricity in the power mix is growing, and much of this is decentralized, in contrast to existing centralized fossil generation capacity. It is inevitable that the structure of the power industry and the nature and role of power producers will fundamentally change, along with the growing penetration of disruptive technology. As this happens, decentralized and variable renewable energy systems, will be coupled with innovative energy storage technologies, greater integration of digitalized devices to support more optimized energy management, creative business models, and flexible markets. As the future power grid becomes more decentralized, diverse and distributed, what are the implications of this transformation for utilities and energy consumers individually as well as community based? The presentations in this session will explore the future roles of utilities and consumers and discuss strategies they can use to prepare for an uncertain and very different future.


Session Chair: Jennifer Leisch, USAID-NREL Partnership Manager, Office of Global Climate Change, USAID


Yogendra Patwardhan, Vice President, Business Development - Emerging Technologies, ABB

Power Systems of the Future - Grid Edge Technologies

Global Challenges like population, climate change and urbanization are driving transformation at a pace never seen before. Disruptive elements are shaping the evolving grid and we are experiencing a paradigm shift. The lines between those that generate power and those that consume it are blurring with prosumers coming into the mix. Feed-in and take-out points will increase rapidly leading to more complexity of the grid. In this presentation, we introduce the grid edge technologies ecosystem that enables these new opportunities. Due to increasing bi-directional power and information flows, grid operators need to respond to a complex & distributed network. The future grid will be augmented by an ecosystem of distributed energy capabilities, digital solutions, and services. Specifically, we explain the new opportunities for digital solutions and services at the edge of the grid, which is an important pre-requisite for the efficient, flexible operation in the context of the energy transition.

Anjal Niraula, General Manager, Gham Power

Helping Farmers Earn Revenue with Agro-Processing Systems

This presentation will describe Gham Power’s online project development tool which enables farmers to improve their yield by using data-driven approaches to select optimal solar-powered agro-processing systems (water pumps, grinding mill, and cold storage). The tool also generates investment reports that banks/investors can review to fund the purchase of the PV system and the appliance. It is mainly meant to help off-grid rural farmers in developing countries as it makes agro-processing solutions more mobile since the source of power can be made available exactly where appliances are needed. It also makes the financing of the systems much more efficient and less risky by enabling mobile payments and remote monitoring.

Tim Watkins, Lead Application Engineer, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories

Decentralized Power Grids: Successfully Integrating Distributed Generation and Cyber Security Challenges

A decentralized power grid lends itself to the integration of a variety of renewable generation sources. Off-grid power generation and microgrids increase the rate of electrification in rural areas. This presentation will look at future challenges of a decentralized power grid with respect to the successful management of distributed generation, such as microgrid islanding and grid restoration. Another challenge is cyber security. The power industry has for many years speculated about the hypothetical impact of a cyber-attack on a power system, and then it happened in 2015 in Ukraine and has happened elsewhere since. With the dawn of more decentralized power systems, and cyber vulnerabilities, how can these modern-day challenges be addressed? Where should we look for answers?

Hugo Lucas Porta, Head of Energy Department, Factor

Renewable Energy Tenders and Community [em] power [ment]

This presentation will discuss how community-driven renewable energy projects (CDREP) offer an unrealized opportunity for shared benefits and improving livelihoods in developing countries. While CDREP are on the rise in many countries – particularly in Europe and North America, numerous barriers still limit these initiatives. The main challenges include regulations and support schemes, lack of finance and finance mechanisms, lack of local skills, social misconception of renewables, and social objection to specific projects. The presentation will discuss the political, social and legal context that can help or hinder the development of CDREP.

Tharindu De Silva, Design Engineer, Lanka Electricity Company (Private) Limited

Success Story of Solar Rooftop Admission Development in Sri Lanka

The traditional utility business model of merely selling electricity is rapidly changing as society demands more sustainable models. In 2010, the utilities of Sri Lanka initiated a net metering scheme to admit solar rooftop systems to the network as a pilot initiative to adapt to this changing environment and to create a socioeconomic value addition to its business. In 2016, the government introduced two additional schemes that enable prosumers to sell their excess generation back to the grid. Lanka Electricity Company (LECO), in partnership with state bank, introduced a loan scheme to promote the PV rooftops resulting in a high increase of solar take up. This presentation will discuss the success story of these initiatives, stakeholder behavior network infrastructure impacts, technical limitations, challenges, and how utilities were benefited.