Energy Sources, Part B: Economics, Planning and Policy
Energy Sources, Part B: Economics, Planning and Policy serves as a forum for the reporting and investigation of economic and political trends and issues relating to the use of both fossil and alternate fuel sources.
Deadline for manuscript submissions: August 31st, 2020
All manuscripts will undergo a blind peer-review process and need to adhere to the journal’s formatting guidelines. Complete guidelines for preparing and submitting your manuscript to this journal are provided in the Instructions for Authors webpage.
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The ways in which energy is generated, transferred and distributed to consumers are undergoing dramatic changes. Energy systems in industrialized countries are transforming from a largely centralised and carbon-intense model to one that is carbon-constrained, highly decentralised, smart and flexible. This process has determined the emergence of new (and potentially disruptive) business models entering the energy system. Peer-to-peer developments in the household and transport sectors, and the societal changes shaped by information technologies are turning traditional business models inside-out in ways that few were prepared for.
Energy systems in the (near) future will be very different to those of today. The prelude to these radical changes is already visible in innovative business practice. It is emerging clearly that the role of consumers’, the ability to handle large amounts of data, together with the emergence of bilateral trade arrangements and the deployment and use of new storage facilities will all contribute to shape the future energy systems. While we cannot be certain what tomorrow’s system will look like, it is important to understand what is driving system change, the likely impacts on consumers and the implications for the economics of future energy systems.
The ways in which the sectors will change within these constraints are very uncertain however continued technological change is expected to affect both how energy is produced and used and how supply and demand are balanced through the grid and ancillary services. Substantial investment will be needed putting pressure on consumers’ bills. But market forces will reduce other costs, perhaps very materially, as has been witnessed with the cost of renewable energy and storage. Despite the uncertainty about what the future will look like, some key changes seem likely, including:
- the development of a smarter and more flexible system with greater responsiveness of demand to price changes;
- more decentralisation of the energy sector (with more distributed generation and more suppliers operating locally rather than centrally);
- increasing interdependence of services, with greater utilisation of consumers’ and system data;
- a more diverse commercial environment;
- better services and opportunities for consumers enabled by new and smarter technology.
These changes began to blur the boundaries of the energy system as we know it and challenge the traditional business model around which the energy industry has been organised from many decades.
A greater effort is therefore now required in order to define more clearly what are the likely new institutional framework, the nature of the relationship among the new and incumbent energy players, and the role and perimeter of future regulation in this changing environment.
Given these challenges we think it is necessary that the academic community is engaged in the analysis of the emerging trends to help practitioners, the business community and policy makers to identify and understand these critical issues.
This special issue is devoted to exploring these emerging trends in the new energy paradigm from a multidisciplinary point of view and to understanding the main policy and regulatory implications.
Topics of interest
Examples of topics appropriate to the theme of this special issue, include, but are not limited to:
- Impact of digitalization on the energy sector, including the implication of new Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Deep Learning and Blockchain applications to existing, new and emerging energy companies.
- Emergence of Local Energy solutions in Energy Systems in transition. We encourage papers which assess the current local energy landscape and the types of models that are emerging (from local supply to private networks), in both Global North and South contexts. The papers could focus on those involving supply to local or community groups, including associated with distributed generation more generally. The analysis should evaluate the potential benefits and risks for consumers, and may consider wider energy justice issues. Also, analyses focusing on the regulatory implications will be considered. We encourage in particular a focus on the potential role played by Distribution System Operators (DSOs) in this evolving energy landscape.
- The role of consumers in the energy system. Active trialling of new technologies and business models is underway, as well as building understanding of consumer behaviours, concerns and preferences, which are crucial both to reducing carbon emissions and building an energy system that responds better to consumer needs. Research in this field is expected to assess whether energy systems are responsive to changing consumer needs and consumers behaviours. This includes evaluations of public acceptance of the facilitating innovations that can benefit consumers, the role of tying energy more closely to the delivery of other services, and studying the measures required to protect customers against emerging risks.
- The role and functioning of flexibility platforms. Electricity systems are becoming more decentralised, smarter, and low carbon. This transition is already underway, but to support this, the system needs to become more flexible and responsive to changing demand and better at accommodating variable renewable generation. The assets to provide a significant proportion of the flexibility that the current electricity systems require already exist and are connected to distribution and transmission networks. Flexibility Platforms are one of the mechanisms that can unlock this flexibility to address the constraints faced by the current electricity system and those that it will have to overcome in the future. Key questions that need to be addressed are:
- What are Flexibility Platforms and what role can they play in modern electricity systems?
- How will Flexibility Platforms evolve in future and how we can assess their benefits, risks and costs to consumers?
- What are the regulatory challenges and barriers to the development of Flexibility Platforms?
Professor of Microeconomics,
Loughborough School of Business and Economics,
Assistant Professor in Economics and Environment,
Ionian Department of Law, Economics and Environment,
University of Bari Aldo Moro