Summary

Electricity production will grow by more than 70% in the next 20 years, driven by world population growth and, more importantly, by the improvement of living standards in new economies. Indeed, it is increased urbanization and consumption of goods which primarily cause the surge in consumption. The impact of economic development in new economies will have considerable consequences on electricity production. Production growth will essentially take place in Asia; the economic development of China in particular should pull global growth up. Beyond 2035, electricity consumption should continue to increase, driven this time by other regions of the world such as India, the rest of Asia and Africa as they achieve their own economic transition. Electricity production is mainly achieved using fossil fuels. The process of producing electricity is extremely inefficient, and consequently the increase in production will have extreme consequences on the consumption of primary fossil resources, and on greenhouse gas emissions. With an average of 30-40% of yield, around two thirds of the energy consumed in a conventional power plant is wasted. Beyond the waste, the need for primary resources to produce electricity can also create in certain regions an unbearable dependency on fossil fuels. The tension on primary resources shall thus continue to accentuate. The massive introduction of renewable energy helps solve these two issues. They have indeed no impact on the environment and they help reduce the dependency on fossil fuels. However, the introduction of renewable energy is complex. Market deregulation and the integration of intermittent sources of renewable energy have made electrical network management considerably more complicated. Electricity cannot be stored therefore the production and the consumption must be balanced out everywhere and in real time. Intermittent sources of energy have therefore a strong impact on this balance. The complexity of this change lies behind the “Smart Grid”, which is a major challenge for the industry as well as a fantastic opportunity to reinvent 70-year-old rules of electrical grid management.

 
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