New Market Opportunities in the Grid

Article By : Nikhil Kaitwade, Future Market Insights

Microgrids, grid maintenance, emerging hardware power a growing energy market.

Global electricity consumption continues to grow at a consistent 3.5 percent annual rate over the last five years, according to a survey of the energy and utilities sector by the International Energy Agency.

In 2020, apparent consumption was estimated to be 16 gigawatt hours by the top 12 countries, with China, the U.S. and India accounting for 60 percent of total. Though the consumption rate plummeted by 5 percent in 2020 due to pandemic-induced lockdowns, a rebound is expected to occur this year, driven by a “V- shaped” recovery and pent-up demand.

The value of the electricity transmission infrastructure market is projected to reach $350 billion by 2030, fueled by public and private investment projected to grow 3.8 percent annually through the end of the decade. That growth will be driven in large measure by grid upgrades for transmitting renewable energy resources. The amount of electricity generated by wind, solar and other renewables is predicted to grow at a 5-percent annual clip.

Key growth areas include microgrids, local energy infrastructure that can operate autonomously from traditional grids, and community power distribution systems used to store and distribute renewable energy. Those remote systems are promising architectures for developing countries.

Another notable avenue derives from municipal infrastructure utility services, many involving in urban rail transit networks with accelerated development of metropolitan rail projects in urban and suburban areas.

Growth, innovation

Current growth opportunities mostly focus on new infrastructure projects, but repair and maintenance services also remain a revenue generator for equipment manufacturers and electric power control providers. The order value per service is significant for incumbent stakeholders as well as independent vendors armed with emerging open source development skills.

The key value-added proposition in the age of rolling blackouts is providing efficient and reliable levels of service. Those service requirements are likely to create demand for new skills sets, creating employment opportunities with above-average salaries.

Overall, the shift toward agile, robust power grids efficiently delivering power where and when it is needed is bound to create new opportunities for manufacturers currently supplying utilities.

Technology innovations include broad adoption of smart power grids, integration of renewable energy grids into existing infrastructure along with deployment of two-way communication technologies, control systems and phase measurement units used to mitigate grid failures. Those tools are being used to balance current and voltage to provide seamless power supply and stability.

Remote power monitoring via smart sensors and the resulting access to real-time data and analysis are also being pursued by utilities, service providers and OEMs.

Another technology being pursued by transmission infrastructure companies is grid carbonization, wherein gas-free transmission equipment is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The technology is also seen as a cost-effective means of reducing overall power loss.

Meanwhile, conventional fluid- and oil-filled transformers are being phased out and replaced with biodegradable ester fluids. The “Eco Transformer” concept also eliminates the use of mineral oil, deemed a hazardous material during shipment and discharge.

This article was originally published on EE Times.

Nikhil Kaitwade is an associate vice president for market research at Future Market Insights.

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