With respect to using cleaner energy, producing cleaner energy, and integrating energy resources the Integrated Energy Network pathway must be considered from technological, economic, and social perspectives. Important social considerations such as security and privacy will be integral to progress along the pathway and in demonstrating the value of broader integration to diverse social groups and interests. Environmental issues must be anticipated and addressed, and worker safety ensured as the energy system changes. With these perspectives in mind, the actions below cross traditional boundaries to support broader recognition of the opportunities and challenges presented by IEN.
Actions relevant to all three IEN elements:
- Develop a framework for evaluating the costs and benefits of integration. An essential step to guide investments in coordinating and integrating energy and natural resource systems is a comprehensive framework for assessing costs and benefits. The Integrated Grid benefit-cost framework provides a starting point, but much more thought is needed.
- Inform policy/regulatory decisions and customer choices with clearly communicated scientific and technological findings and perspectives. Understand the consequences of consumer actions and choices, based on a comprehensive analysis of impacts and benefits with respect to cost, reliability, and other factors such as air/water emissions, waste, and land use.
- Anticipate and address emerging environmental and worker safety issues. The IEN pathway creates substantial change in how energy is produced, transported, and used. It is essential to anticipate and address effectively emerging environmental and worker safety issues (e.g., environmental impacts of renewables).
- Implement funding mechanisms and processes to support development and demonstration of new technology. Allocate resources nationally and regionally sufficient to support development and demonstration of technologies at commercial scale. Development at less-than-commercial scale leaves too many unknowns with respect to cleaner energy production, delivery, and use. Pursue broader public-private collaboration to secure adequate funding.
- Expand and coordinate international and cross-sector research. International and cross-sector coordination of research, development, and demonstration of technologies is key to efficient, timely progress in development and deployment.
- Focus on security, reliability, resiliency, and privacy. Public acceptance depends on effective, concerted attention to cyber security and privacy controls in moving to a more integrated, digitally controlled energy system.
- Expand public education and communication. For over a century, the inner workings and complexities of the electric system have been largely hidden from the public, whose concern primarily focuses on whether the lights come on at the flip of the switch. As customers become more active in managing energy use, education is needed help them understand the system and their options.