The energy sector is in the midst of a major global transformation. During the next 5-15 years, massive disruption is expected across the entire energy value chain, one that will affect a broad set of stakeholders. Linear value chains supporting one-way power flow from centralized generation to end customers will give way to a more sustainable, highly digitized, and dynamic energy system. Moving toward a multidirectional network of networks and away from a linear hub-and-spoke model, this system will support two-way energy flows in which customer choice, clean energy, innovation, and agility command a premium. Navigant calls this the Energy Cloud.
The Energy Cloud can be thought of as a platform of platforms. In the power distribution space, Navigant believes that today’s smart grid will become a Neural Grid platform. Where smart grid implies legacy mechanical T&D networks enhanced by pockets of automation, connectivity, and centralized IT systems, the Neural Grid implies a vastly more powerful platform of hard and soft assets leveraging ubiquitous connectivity, the cloud, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), edge computing, and pervasive sensing to perform a variety of energy and non-energy applications. It is the end game for grid modernization, transforming legacy infrastructure into a platform that will support a fully mature Energy Cloud environment.
Navigant Research Principal Research Analyst Richelle Elberg will describe the Energy Cloud and Neural Grid concepts in this presentation, with a particular emphasis on the critical role that will be played by utility communications networks.