Shaping the Power Generation sector

I recently viewed a Power Generation survey conducted a year or so back and found it valuable to what motivates change. It was centred on the Middle East Power Generation sector and conducted by Siemens to help them understand future power generation’s underlying trends.

This Siemens survey had as the main question to the survey: “Which trends do you think are currently having the biggest impact on the power generation sector in your region“.

Now in reading this, we have to recognize this is the Middle East with an abundance of oil and gas, but are the trends similar for other regions of the world? The responses I would suggest are certainly reflecting a global movement; the ranking orders might vary. They bring out the opportunities and challenges all power generation is going through presently, I would think.

So in the Middle East, the top three trends that were having the biggest impact were felt to be:

  1. The power /gas market liberalization
  2. Changing customer expectations
  3. Environmental regulation and New emission standards

Then the next three impactful trends

  • Decentralization of power generation systems
  • Demand growth and urbanization
  • Privatization of generation and distribution assets

Followed by these shifts taking place

  • The lower range of oil price
  • Growth in renewable power generation
  • Digitalization of process and operations
  • Emerging technology disruption (i.e. battery storage)

Other observations from this report

One area is the increasing priority of digitalization, looking to overcome or bridge the trend impacts. This will come in the form of 1) improving customer data collection and analysis, 2) process automation, 3) virtual power plant (VPP) for management of distributed energy sources, 4) modelling digital asset performance management through greater connected IoT, digital twins etc.

As digitalization grows as part of the solutions, an increased focus on 1) Cybersecurity, 2) the increased use of Artificial intelligence, and 3) Blockchain are all prioritized.

I don’t see these challenges and trends as different for all those involved in power generation globally as they grapple with a changing generation mix but are nicely summarized.

What I draw from this ranking of trends let me offer the following views.

It is the external factors of liberalization, changing expectations and standards that drive the power generation’s underlying changes.

If changes were not “forced”, then we would have no or slow change. The shift in thinking about managing power generation is then triggered, of considering new business models or ways to undertake business, then recognising the impacts driving the actual changes (oil to renewables, digitalization and alternative technologies).

The report states that it seems to be one of optimism as privatization gathers. This gives opportunities to open up a more flexible business model as deregulation continues, and options to build a business become more driven by market and consumer trends.

There is a shift taking place from the combination of an increased pace of regulatory change, raising expectations and demands for flexibility in pricing and energy choices by the final consumer, energy security of supply, and growing competition are all raising the potential for different business models and generation options to explore.

The opening up of previously monopolistic positions does recognize competition will come in different forms. This incentivises the incumbent to focus more on cost and performance, driving down operating costs and finding new ways to manage changing market expectations.

Change can be very uncomfortable for the incumbent.

It is always interesting as “market forces” shift optimism—a feeling of a new lease of life changes to one where change takes on harder meaning.

Eventually, what emerges when you undertake to change is that it suddenly requires different perspectives at the different stages of any change based on how markets’ open up and eventually take hold.

I found it a good prompting report for reflecting on important trends in Power Generation.

 

Author: @paul4innovating

A transition advocate for innovation, ecosystems, and digitalization for the energy and IIoT systems

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