Utility Week Live meets Simon Harrison, Group strategic development manager, Mott MacDonald; and chair of energy policy panel, IET, and a Utility Week Live 2017 Transformation Leader.
Speaking exclusively to Utility Week Live, Simon Harrison states that the transformation in the utility sector is being driven by the need to cut costs and by the demand coming from the increasingly tech savvy consumers.
Harrison has a pan-infrastructure perspective on things due to his work with Mott MacDonald, but has a focus on energy as a result of his role with the Institute of Engineering and Technology. Within this, he chairs the Future Power Systems Architecture Project, a collaboration for the UK government between the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the Energy Systems Catapult, which is looking at how more renewables can be added seamlessly onto the system, alongside more small scale generation and storage at a distribution level, and how smarter systems will evolve as the rise of the prosumer continues.
The important aspect of all of this is increasing the communication between the traditional infrastructure based utilities, and those in the “edge of grid area and beyond the meter”. “The world of utilities where everything has to be secure and take a long time to plan and deliver within that structure – all the constraints we’re very familiar with.
“On the consumer side of the meter, especially where the technology companies are getting involved, it’s a totally different picture. Everything moves very fast, the pace is the pace of tech development rather than the pace of infrastructure and that presents an enormous challenges.”
Tackling these challenge is where Harrison, and the other UWL transformers, come in to drive the debate and push forward potential solutions. For Harrison, he is keen to unite these two different sides of the utility arena. This mission is aided by a growing appetite and desire for this to happen and that “people are seeing and feeling change, and its opening minds to a whole bunch of new things.”
Getting the steadier, infrastructure world, and the faster paced consumer wold working together is essential for the future. “It’s not that one is less relevant than the other,” Harrison says. “The future is all about them working together and if they fail to work together, at best it’s a massive lost opportunity and at worst it’s a significant risk.”
The result of preserving the essential service, and adopting to new consumer and technology demands is an increased system flexibility. This will see the sector transform from its traditional, vertically integrated model, to a more decentralised one able to cope with prosumers and more active system management.
Hear Simon Harrison discussing the transformation of utilities in the following seminar sessions at Utility Week Live 2017: