Multiple utilities, including gas and electricity, have seen a significant shift in both supply and demand during the past few years. Even though the coronavirus pandemic has certainly played a role, it is only one of many factors that will drive the future of gas and electricity. There are numerous environmental challenges that need to be addressed to ensure utilities are properly maintained, meet the demands of consumers, and position themselves for the future. Learn more about the biggest factors influencing both supply and demand of electricity and gas.
The Growth of Solar Energy
The growth of solar energy is one of the biggest issues that the power grid will need to address. Climate change has been one of the biggest drivers of change in all utilities, and the electric industry is no different. With a lot of people installing solar panels on their homes, and businesses increasingly turning to solar energy, the electrical industry will have to adapt its components to ensure it can both store and distribute solar energy. Companies that are able to best use solar energy will position themselves well for the future. Furthermore, some people who generate more solar electricity than they need are interested in delivering that excess power back to the grid so that it can be used by other people.
The Surge in Demand for Electric Cars
With gas prices climbing all over the world, there has been an increased demand for electric cars. Because people are increasingly turning to electricity to power cars instead of gasoline, more people will be relying on the power grid to “fuel” their cars. This means that power companies will see a significant spike in electricity demand in the future, and they must have the necessary technology to meet that demand.
The Growing Need for Connected Management
Connected management is needed more in the gas and electrical industry than ever before. Climate change has led to temperature extremes in both directions, a lot of companies are running under conditions that they had never planned for, and electricity no longer flows in one direction. With so many moving parts, electric and gas companies need to rely on technology that can identify trends, shift resources accordingly, and make sure everyone’s needs are met consistently and safely. This means working with technology professionals who have experience in this area and can program internal systems accordingly.
Aging infrastructure is another significant challenge facing both the gas and electrical industries today. In 2015, a report by the United States Department of Energy indicated that more than 70 percent of power transformers are more than 25 years old, more than 70 percent of transmission lines are more than 25 years old, and more than 60 percent of circuit breakers are greater than 30 years old. Even though it is expensive to replace this infrastructure with brand new equipment, it has also become a challenge to maintain this aging infrastructure because companies may no longer have the right parts and they may have a difficult time finding people who understand how to work on these legacy structures. Utility companies need to figure out how to either maintain or replace this infrastructure because as it continues to get older, the chances of something breaking will only increase.
The Threat of Cyberattacks
Without a doubt, one of the biggest challenges facing gas and electrical companies today is the growing threat of cyberattacks. Because the vast majority of utility companies are consistently connected to the internet, they provide a portal for hackers to launch a cyberattack, such as a ransomware attack. These companies are also attractive targets because they are known to have weak cybersecurity and a cyberattack launched on a utility company can immediately impact millions of people. Gas and electrical companies must make sure they update their cybersecurity systems regularly and that they educate their employees on how to avoid falling victim to a cyberattack.
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