Tell the truth, gentle reader: Have you ever wondered, “what exactly is advanced energy?” If so, this post is for you. In brief, advanced energy encompasses the technologies and services, both emerging and established, that are delivering an energy system for the 21st century — one that is secure, clean, and affordable. But what are those technologies and services that we consider advanced? The industry is so big and diverse and innovative that this question cannot be answered, at least not comprehensively, in a phrase or a short list or, for that matter, a single blog post. So we are going to introduce the component parts of advanced energy one by one, week by week. Settle in, because it will take over a year to get through them all.
The individual technologies that comprise advanced energy really speak for themselves, and in AEE’s new report, This Is Advanced Energy, we have allowed them to do just that. Together, the 52 technologies and services in the report define advanced energy. Next week, we will begin posting them one technology a week. This week, we introduce them all.
But first, the answer to a different question: Why advanced energy?
Access to affordable, reliable energy is fundamental to modern life and commerce. The increasingly critical need for reliability, the rising economic cost of blackouts, and the growing threat of cyber attacks can all be addressed through a more flexible and responsive energy system that draws on a variety of resources and gives everyone more choice in their energy decisions.
The technologies needed to build a modern, high-performing, and affordable energy system already exist, and bring with them huge opportunities for businesses to grow in the U.S. and lead global innovations in energy. The 21st century energy system made possible by advanced energy is not just a collection of power plants and transmission lines, automobiles and gas stations, refineries and pipelines. It is a dynamic and complex assortment of resources, technologies, and services working together to collectively meet our evolving needs. These advanced energy solutions can be roughly broken down into six main categories:
- Electricity Generation – The power plants, big and small, that generate electricity to reliably light our homes and power our industries. These include a growing suite of distributed generation resources that provide on-site energy and give customers unprecedented control over their energy use.
- Electricity Delivery & Management – The poles and wires that deliver our electricity, and the increasingly sophisticated hardware and software used to manage power supply and power quality with greater flexibility and precision.
- Building Efficiency – The tools and technologies to reduce and manage building energy costs and consumption while also improving building performance and comfort.
- Water Efficiency – The technologies and services available to reduce water use, and thereby reduce the amount of energy that goes into extracting, transporting, treating, and disposing of the water we need for domestic use, agriculture, industry, and power generation.
- Transportation – The technologies that efficiently and cheaply power cars, trucks, trains, and boats, including innovations and improvements in traditional vehicles.
- Fuel Production & Delivery – The growing variety of feedstocks, conversion processes, and delivery infrastructure used mainly in our transportation system, but also in some cases used in electricity generation, such as with fuel cells or microturbines.
The technologies and services in each of these categories deliver a variety of benefits to our energy system and enable a transformation that will result in reliability, affordability, consumer choice, and innovation across the board. This transformation is well underway in every state across the country as utilities, businesses, and customers embrace the advantages of advanced energy. Watch this space for more details on these six categories, as well as detailed descriptions of the 52 technologies that make up the advanced energy industry in 2016: how they work, how they are currently deployed, and how they are changing our energy system.