The U.S. energy sector is in the midst of transformational change. Emerging technologies and societal demand promise to reshape not only the energy we use, but also how we use it.

Our regulatory environment and approval process must incorporate a “common sense” approach helping streamline project approvals while encouraging innovative approaches to upgrade our energy and utility infrastructure.

We must integrate renewable energy, energy storage, and other emerging technologies into a cohesive energy portfolio in order to meet tomorrow’s energy demands, today.

The Challenge

There are a number of issues facing our nation’s energy infrastructure. From the source of energy – fossil fuels or renewables – to storage and distribution of power; threats, shortfalls, and challenges appear on all fronts.

As climate increasingly takes center stage, we are witnessing a shift from traditional fossil fuel and carbon-intensive power generation to greener alternatives and renewables. These face issues like diluteness and intermittency, which requires some type of power storage infrastructure. The market for solar, wind, hydroelectric, and other renewables is not as competitive as traditional resources and often have subsidies and government disruptions to market equilibria.

Our electrical grids lack the intelligence that other systems in our infrastructure are integrating. Features allowing power to be measured, routed, and diverted from numerous sources and with dynamic responsiveness to realtime demand are the future. Additionally, the security of our grid is in jeopardy. National intelligence officials believe hostile foreign powers could remotely disrupt power plants or that an electromagnetic attack could take them all offline.

These and more represent both technical and regulatory hurdles we must overcome to improve efficiency, safety, and resilience in our energy infrastructure.

The Solution

Research and development are critical to any technical challenge. But without the regulatory pieces falling into place as well, we can get nowhere. We must have a regulatory climate that encourages innovation and investment, that also balances costs and benefits.

Before our energy sector and infrastructure can transition to all green processes, significant advances in power storage are essential. Whether that is new batteries, more efficient allocation networks, or something unimagined thus far, we cannot realistically rely on the free resources of sun and wind without that next innovation.

A smarter grid is also needed. And this comes from both the technical side and regulatory side of the equation.

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Aii Energy Month

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