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Energy grids of the future – Connecting the dots


The workshop brought together stakeholders across the energy sector for interdisciplinary
discussions on the future power grid. The goal was to identify key drivers and barriers for power grid
development to enable a low-carbon society, which are listed respectively in Table 1 and Table 2. The
drivers and barriers were identified through the presentation of scientific research and discussion
among participants in the electricity sector.
The future grid is determined both by the status quo and the trends that are currently shaping
society and policies. Climate change is currently one of the most wide-spanning threats, and a major
driver for the development of the future grid is in the form of climate change mitigation efforts,
where electrification is a major mitigation measure. Several regulatory changes are being made in
the power system to reduce carbon emissions, with ripple effects in other sectors of society.
Mapping drivers and barriers for future grid development are useful when discussing what to expect
of the future power system and how to arrive there.
The electric grid is regulated as a natural monopoly and regulation is not easy to design or adapt in a
changing power system. Regulation can both facilitate and hinder grid development, and it is,
therefore, a key element to enable the future grid. The regulation defines the role of the different
participants in the electricity sector, but the role of aggregators1 are not clearly defined. There is also
a discussion about how current revenue cap regulation for the distribution grid companies
incentivizes investment in grid infrastructure versus the development of new flexibility solutions.
Cultural barriers are also relevant. Grid companies are focused on system security and reliability, and
their company culture is to develop robust infrastructure. New solutions can be perceived as
vulnerable and less reliable than established ones, which could be a barrier to utilising external
flexible assets. At the same time, customer culture is equally critical to offer flexibility potential in a
local flexibility market, especially if customers have trust issues regarding the external control by grid
companies or aggregators on private electricity use.
Flexibility market design faces barriers such as the uncertainty regarding the agent responsible for its
implementation and maintenance. Distribution grid companies don’t have the expertise to
participate in such markets, or even lack the tools to forecast flexibility needs. Other agents may be
able to develop and use better tools and knowledge, but there is a lack of common communication
protocols, which could facilitate the coordination of actions.
Barriers and drivers for grid development can be organized into layers, from global trends to
categories that are external and internal to the grid. Among the megatrends, besides climate change,
geopolitics and security of electricity supply are important factors that influence the grid
development, as is digitalization which provides new opportunities to monitor and organize supply
and demand in the grid. Important external drivers of grid development are political goals and
societal trends, technology, and current and future business models.
Political goals and societal trends reflect decisions that are taken by all, and thus society engagement
and participation are highly relevant. Knowledge of the problem is equally important as finding the
best outcome, and information should be available for customers to understand their role in the grid.
Grid companies can also act as facilitators for the adoption of better measures for grid development.


Academic lecture


  • Research Council of Norway (RCN) / 296205





  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • SINTEF Energy Research / Energisystemer

Presented at

Workshop on Energy grids of the future – Connecting the dots




10.05.2022 - 10.05.2022





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