PALO ALTO, Calif., March 31, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- In the wake of the Texas power crisis, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) President and CEO Dr. Arshad Mansoor said improved forecasting, cross-sectoral integration and a greater focus on the emerging roles of consumers and communities are key to improving the resilience of the nation's energy infrastructure.
In a virtual panel discussion this month on resilient energy infrastructure co-hosted by the Georgia Institute of Technology's (Georgia Tech) Strategic Energy Institute and School of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Mansoor said "blaming one energy source is a red herring."
Mansoor emphasized the importance of taking a holistic view of the energy system, stressing that conversations about energy infrastructure resilience should be centered around integration and coordination of electric power resources across the supply chain.
"Texas has just made it very clear – somebody needs to own an integrated view of resiliency across water, gas and electric," Mansoor said.
When it comes to planning designs, plant and distribution operations and their corresponding market and regulatory environments, Mansoor said officials should focus on the future.
"Backcasting—using past events as a predictor of future events—is insufficient in a changing climate," Mansoor said. "We have to forecast what the weather is going to look like in 2040. And there are organizations that have amazing tools for us to do that."
He said that taking an approach that prioritizes electricity supply and demand resource integration includes not only weather forecasting but also predicting the extent to which the future economy will depend solely on electricity.
Accurate estimates of future load profiles are necessary to ensuring electric sector investments are effective and sustainable. These investments include transmission and distribution infrastructure, deployment and integration of distributed energy resources (DER) like long-duration energy storage systems, and other components essential to a resilient electricity system.
Southern Company Chief Economist and Director of Planning and Regulatory Support Kenneth Shiver agreed, emphasizing the necessity of a resilient, functioning electric grid. "If we don't have electricity, the economy stops," said Shiver. "From our perspective, electricity is more than a commodity."
Mansoor and Shiver participated in the "#SMARTer Together" webinar with power sector thought leaders, including: Dentons U.S. Energy Practice Chair Clint Vince; Georgia Tech Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Emily Grubert; and moderator Tim Lieuwen, Executive Director of the Strategic Energy Institute at Georgia Tech.
The panelists agreed the 2021 crisis in Texas, like similar widespread power outages that preceded it, underscores consumer reliance on the grid and the importance of investing in resiliency. When asked about cost-benefit analysis in protecting the system from extreme weather, the panel focused on the big picture.
"Cost-benefit analysis isn't sufficient when you're talking about a resource that is an essential service," Mansoor said. "Lives are on the line." Vince agreed, arguing that those who suffered from the events in Texas would be willing to pay more for safety and reliability.
The group of experts explored several options for integrated resource planning and acknowledged that future weather disasters are inevitable. Mansoor said resiliency planning must go beyond infrastructure to include its ultimate beneficiaries—communities and consumers.
The Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI, www.epri.com) conducts research and development relating to the generation, delivery and use of electricity for the benefit of the public. An independent, nonprofit organization, EPRI brings together its scientists and engineers as well as experts from academia and industry to help address challenges in electricity, including reliability, efficiency, health, safety and the environment. EPRI's members represent more than 90 percent of the electricity generated and delivered in the United States, and international participation extends to 40 countries. EPRI's principal offices and laboratories are in Palo Alto, Calif.; Charlotte, N.C.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Lenox, Mass.
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SOURCE Electric Power Research Institute