Utility revenues and network capacity ‘under threat from distributed generation’

Distributed generation (DG) poses a serious threat to utility revenues and network capacity. That’s according to a new survey from Accenture, which questioned more than 100 global utility leaders about the effects […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

Distributed generation (DG) poses a serious threat to utility revenues and network capacity.

That’s according to a new survey from Accenture, which questioned more than 100 global utility leaders about the effects the new type of energy network could have on the sector.

Among these executives, 58% said they believe DG will cause a drop in earnings for large utilities by 2030.

They are also worried about the increased network costs needed to support reliable energy delivery as intermittent loads on the grid increase.

Around 59% said the biggest network stress will come from small scale DG such as domestic solar installations.

Medium or high voltage connected DG, including large scale renewable plants, are predicted to be the second biggest risk at 29%.

Nearly six in 10 executives expect grid faults to increase by 2020, due to the increasingly volatile use of their networks and the same amount believe their DG hosting capacity could be exhausted within 10 years.

Stephanie Jamison, Managing Director at Accenture Transmission and Distribution, said: “The rapid evolution of the technology, better economics and the growing accessibility and environmental appeal of residential solar photovoltaics have pushed distributed generation from the fringe to a mainstream factor on the grid.

“Despite the challenges the integration of these new technologies at scale bring, it is essential to meet the growing expectations of consumers in order to position utilities to provide services based business models that could drive much needed new revenue.”

UK Power Networks is to develop a smart, flexible energy system to help keep costs down for consumers.

Siemens has opened a dynamic grid centre to manage future transmission systems in Germany.