Meeting the world’s growing demand for energy, while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gases, is one of the greatest challenges we’ll face over the coming decades. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) World Energy Report, global energy demand is projected to grow by 16 percent between 2020 and 2030. That’s an increase greater than the primary energy consumption of all of Europe.

Added to this dramatic growth equation is the urgent need to accelerate the transition to sustainable but intermittent distributed energy resources (like wind and solar); increase new transmission and distribution lines worldwide (which, according to the IEA, could be as much as 16,000,000 kilometers by 2030); and introduce utility-scale energy storage and operational complexity increases by orders of magnitude.

Yet, the fundamental grid architecture has not altered much since its genesis over a century ago. The original grid conceived by Thomas Edison was based on central points of electrical generation that transmitted high voltage power to distribution substations where the voltage was stepped down. Electricity was then distributed to factories, homes, and businesses. Importantly, power flowed in a single direction.

Although the grid has, for some decades, supported modest amounts of sustainable energyaccommodating the massive surge in solar and wind power generating capacity in the years ahead requires a transformation of the electrical grid at an extraordinary pace. Presently, the electrical generating capacity of solar and wind energy sources is growing five times faster than all other forms of generating capacity.

To fully realize the value of this new sustainable generating capacity, we need to completely change the way that we manage the consumption and distribution of energy. We need to optimize usage so that we minimize the carbon intensity of energy generation and maximize the use of sustainable energy resources.

Click here to learn more about what’s fueling today’s energy transformation.


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