Disruption is a prevailing and uncompromising theme of technological innovation in the 21st century. Technologies that can slice through preexisting layers of regulatory and business model processes to directly connect customers to the goods and services they seek are gaining traction across global markets. As a result, the regulatory compacts and constructs that have governed various forms of natural monopolies in energy markets face formidable challenges from distributed energy resources (DER). Chief among these challenges is a growing demand from customers to integrate these cutting-edge products to the electric distribution grid.
From solar photovoltaics (PV) and energy storage to demand response (DR)-enabled thermostats and electric vehicles (EVs), technologies with capabilities that were previously only provided to electric grids from supply-side resources are becoming available to the average consumer. Navigant Research expects the installed cost for PV in global markets to fall below $1.50 per watt by 2024, while the North American market for EV services and equipment is expected to grow to more than $4 billion by 2025. These trends fueling DER adoption bring with them complications for network operators, requiring nuanced coordination. This tangible convergence of DER interconnections to networks ill-suited to integrate demand-side behaviors is ground zero for DER disruption of the global energy landscape. The answer? Integrated Distributed Energy Resources (iDER) portfolios – and they’re coming.