Facilitating the Transition Through Digital Technologies
Electricity markets are undergoing a considerable transformation. First, electricity has become the energy of the twenty-first century. Its growth is forecasted to nearly double in the coming 20 years. Electricity is indeed the energy of economic maturity. It is used to power domestic equipment, electronic systems, as well as the large data centers that are becoming dominant in our modern way of life based on information and the use of the Internet. The growth in electricity consumption is first related to the strong evolution of the worldwide population set out for the coming decades. More people connect to the grid and consume more electric energy. It is then related to the economic growth of new economies which, as they develop, require more energy. The energy intensity per capita of these new economies is progressively catching up on the one of mature economies, resulting in a significant increase in consumption worldwide. The growth in electricity consumption is also associated with fuel switching strategies, which privilege the use of electricity to other sources of energy. Traditional biomass consumption in new economies is progressively replaced by electric consumption. As well, electricity often turns out to be one of the most economical ways to consume primary resources of energy. In industry, the yield of electric motors is significantly higher than that of internal combustion engines, leading to industrial enterprises favoring electricity. Finally, in light of global environment issues, transportation itself, which will grow significantly in the coming decades as billions of people in non-OECD countries become more mobile, offers tremendous possibilities for electric transportation, notably in cities. Energy efficiency measures obviously dampen slightly the overall consumption of energy, but not to the extent it changes the upward trend of electricity consumption. Consequently, electricity is set to become the dominant source of energy in the twenty-first century. If the forecasts currently estimate nearly a doubling of the consumption in the coming decades, the overall potential of electricity consumption is beyond limits.