Apr 28, 2020

Microgrid market to grow $2.1bn by 2025

Technology
Smart Grids
Energy Storage
Energy Efficiency
William Girling
2 min
A report from Global Industry Analytics projects that the global microgrid market will grow US$2.1bn by 2025 - a 16.2% increase
A report from Glob...

A report from Global Industry Analytics projects that the global microgrid market will grow US$2.1bn by 2025 - a 16.2% increase. 

The US is expected to maintain the highest sectoral growth in the world (17.4%), with some other sources predicting that, by 2040, clean-energy microgrids could be worth a staggering $350bn.

Microgrids are an interconnected series of local electricity sources which can supplement or be independent of traditional electrical grids. The advantages to consumers are increased energy efficiency, lower energy costs, better electrical stability and eco-friendly benefits.

The latter results from the integration of renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and wind turbines, which produce power that can either be stored for later use or used as a primary energy supply. 

Solving energy supply issues

In an innovation report by Hitachi America, Alireza Aram, Snr VP and GM, stated his belief that microgrids held the key meeting the modern era’s demand for reliable sources of electricity. 

“Against a background of successive natural disasters and terror threats around the world, a steady supply of electricity including measures against power outages is a common social issue for all countries, from the viewpoint of the safety and security of their residents.

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“As the introduction of renewable energy proceeds as a measure against global warming, microgrids are looked to as a promising solution to various issues,” he said. However, Aram emphasised that the responsibility to develop this potential lies with companies like Hitachi.

Innovating in the US energy sector

Siemens has been devoting resources to the development of microgrids across the US. The company is currently providing innovative microgrid services to the AURORA Project in California, with Xcel Energy in Denver and with LO3 Energy in New York, as well as others.

Supplying a four-stage circular microgrid offering - simulation, implementing control, monitoring and benchmarking, and continuous optimisation - Siemens states on its website that the reason for its commitment to the technology is its far-reaching applicability:

“Microgrids use a variety of energy sources, including photovoltaic and wind-power plants as well as small hydro-power and biomass-power plants. Biodiesel generators and emergency power units, storage modules, and intelligent control systems ensure the security of supply.

“Siemens provides a comprehensive portfolio of products, solutions, and services to help build and operate microgrids of any size. They provide generation and distribution of electrical energy as well as monitoring and controlling of microgrids.”

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Jul 26, 2021

Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April

Ofwat
Utilities
water
prices
Dominic Ellis
3 min
Ofwat confirms levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue

Retailers can recover a portion of excess bad debt by temporarily increasing prices from April 2022, according to an Ofwat statement.

The regulator confirmed its view that levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue, thereby allowing "a temporary increase" in the maximum prices. Adjustments to price caps will apply for a minimum of two years to reduce the step changes in price that customers might experience.

Measures introduced since March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 could lead to retailers facing higher levels of customer bad debt. Retailers’ abilities to respond to this are expected to be constrained by Ofwat strengthening protections for non-household customers during Covid-19 and the presence of price caps.  

In April last year, Ofwat committed to provide additional regulatory protection if bad debt costs across the market exceeded 2% of non-household revenue. 

Georgina Mills, Business Retail Market Director at Ofwat said: “These decisions aim to protect the interests of non-household customers in the short and longer term, including from the risk of systemic Retailer failure as the business retail market continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19. By implementing market-wide adjustments to price caps, we aim to minimise any additional costs for customers in the shorter term by promoting efficiency and supporting competition.”  

There are also three areas where Ofwat has not reached definitive conclusions and is seeking further evidence and views from stakeholders:   

  1. Pooling excess bad debt costs – Ofwat proposes that the recovery of excess bad debt costs is pooled across all non-household customers, via a uniform uplift to price caps. 
  2. Keeping open the option of not pursuing a true up – For example if outturn bad debt costs are not materially higher than the 2% threshold. 
  3. Undertaking the true up – If a 'true up' is required, Ofwat has set out how it expects this to work in practice. 

Further consultation on the proposed adjustments to REC price caps can be expected by December.

Anita Dougall, CEO and Founding Partner at Sagacity, said Ofwat’s decision comes hot on the heels of Ofgem’s price cap rise in April.

"While it’s great that regulators are helping the industry deal with bad debt in the wake of the pandemic, raising prices only treats the symptoms. Instead, water companies should head upstream, using customer data to identify and rectify the causes of bad debt, stop it at source and help prevent it from occurring in the first place," she said.

"While recouping costs is a must, water companies shouldn’t just rely on the regulator. Data can help companies segment customers, identify and assist customers that are struggling financially, avoiding penalising the entire customer in tackling the cause of the issue."

United Utilities picks up pipeline award

A race-against-time plumbing job to connect four huge water pipes into the large Haweswater Aqueduct in Cumbria saw United Utilities awarded Utility Project of the Year by Pipeline Industries Guild.

The Hallbank project, near Kendal, was completed within a tight eight-day deadline, in a storm and during the second COVID lockdown last November – and with three hours to spare. Principal construction manager John Dawson said the project helped boost the resilience of water supplies across the North West.

“I think what made us stand out was the scale, the use of future technology and the fact that we were really just one team, working collaboratively for a common goal," he said.

Camus Energy secures $16m funding

Camus Energy, which provides advanced grid management technology, has secured $16 million in a Series A round, led by Park West Asset Management and joined by Congruent VenturesWave Capital and other investors, including an investor-owned utility. Camus will leverage the operating capital to expand its grid management software platform to meet growing demand from utilities across North America.

As local utilities look to save money and increase their use of clean energy by tapping into low-cost and low-carbon local resources, Camus' grid management platform provides connectivity between the utility's operations team, its grid-connected equipment and customer devices.

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