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Utilities seem largely accepting of an energy future characterized by increasingly distributed forms of energy generation and storage - and they are taking action to ready themselves and shape the outcomes, according to results of primary research conducted among 200 energy leaders by DNV GL.

When asked, "What is the most significant challenge facing the utility industry over the next five years?" 40% of respondents cited "interconnection of distributed generation." Meanwhile, 32% cited "lack of clarity in national energy and environmental policies."

Ten percent of respondents answered “increased threats for grid and power infrastructure security,” 8% generally answered “other,” 6% cited “decreased levels or regulatory acceptance of smart grid investments,” 2% said “need for new business models,” and another 2% answered “need for asset investment.”

Hugo van Nispen, executive vice president of global energy advisory at DNV GL, explains, "We're seeing a significant shift in the power sector today, prompted in part by changes in policy around clean energy and by new technical capabilities. The survey results confirm this observation. This shift will have significant implications for how we produce and deliver power in years to come and will most likely disrupt existing business models."

The survey, conducted from April to May, found that a majority in the industry appear to be preparing to acclimate to potentially disruptive forces, particularly through adoption of new technologies

"We're seeing significant potential to innovate,” says Van Nispen. “However, changing technology creates challenges, and utilities will likely need regulatory support to adapt."

According to the report, "The key policy issues on the minds of many are the impact of net metering and distributed generation interconnection, greenhouse gas and emissions control and the evolution of the competitive retail markets. Together, over 78 percent of respondents believe these policy or regulatory advances will have the greatest impact on the industry's evolution by 2020."




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