The chief executive of National Grid, a conglomerate delivering electricity and natural gas in the US northeast and United Kingdom, says the electric grid as we’ve known it is so 20th century.
Instead of workaday electricity being generated by giant, centralized generating stations, “the solar on the rooftop is going to be the baseload,” says CEO Steve Holliday. “The world is clearly moving towards much more distributed electricity production and towards microgrids. The idea of baseload power is already outdated. From a consumer’s point of view, baseload is what I’m producing myself,” not what utilities make in a single location.
Holliday continues, “The solar on my rooftop, my heat pump – that’s the baseload. Centralized power stations will be increasingly used to provide peak demand” – only making electricity when demand is at its highest. He adds that electric companies have to develop skills in “agility and flexibility. There will be different [energy] answers for different places, rural and cities, and for different customers.”
TRENDPOST: Electric utilities are shifting their business model from one of production and distribution to customer service. A growing role for the companies will be to help electricity generated by individuals make its way to the places that need it and will pay for it; central generation will become a backup service. Money nestled comfortably in utility stocks will need to explore new options – such as the solar-generation industry, likely to grow at an annual double-digit pace beyond the next decade.