New systems for distributed energy resources and distributed generation, as well as energy storage will overtake utilities’ reliance on energy efficiency and demand response/demand side management to ease pressure on the grid and reduce dependence on fossil fuels over the next three to five years, according to new research from the Association of Energy Services Professionals.
The research was conducted with Illume Advising and Grounded Research in fall 2018.
Energy efficiency programs generally refer to those that help consumers use less energy, through strategies such as insulation, better appliances and devices such as smart thermostats that enable the consumer to be more efficient with energy use. Demand response, or demand side management are programs that modify consumers’ energy use through incentive-based programs and education.
Distributed generation and distributed energy resources (DER) are assets that are deployed across the distribution grid, which can be used individually or in aggregate to provide value to the grid, individual customers, or both.
Currently nearly all of the more than 200 utilities that participated in the survey offer energy efficiency services (94%) and demand response (62%), while just about half offer distributed generation (51%) and slightly more than one-fourth offer energy storage (27%).
However, these numbers are set to shift in three to five years. Only 31% of these utilities see energy efficiency programs growing and 45% see demand response programs growing; while nearly all see distributed generation (87%) and energy storage (89%) expanding.
“We are seeing an important shift,” said AESP President and CEO John Hargrove. “Energy efficiency has been an important staple of our work; however, through technology today that has made homes and businesses 'smarter' about lowering their energy use, the focus will shift to exciting new areas of distributed energy resources and storage. These hold enormous potential, which is why we expect a new focus in these areas.”