Power and renewables

Mass electrification only possible with heavy investment

Achieving climate targets hinges on global power grid expansion

Power grids

Energy industry leaders see an urgent need for greater investment in power grids to better connect regions, secure reliable distribution of resources and meet climate targets. Three quarters (76%) of the 400 senior energy professionals contacted in 75 countries say existing grid infrastructure can’t adequately connect renewable energy sources to areas of high demand.

  • 87% of energy leaders and experts told DNV there is an urgent need for greater investment in the power grid.   
  • 91% said power grid expansion and upgrade is critical to meet Paris climate goals.   
  • 58% think storage systems are the main area where increased investment is expected next, followed by solar integration and electric vehicle infrastructure (both at 49%).  
  • Over three quarters say smart grid implementation is not happening quickly enough to support the energy transition.    

DNV predicts that smart grid implementation will not happen quickly enough to support the energy transition without significant investment.   

Energy leaders consider grid capacity expansion the most important priority today to meet climate targets, particularly in Europe and among those in the transmission and distribution sectors. This is expected to increase in importance in the next five years in other regions too, particularly in the North America and Asia-Pacific regions.   

When asked about areas where investment is expected to increase generally in the year ahead, over half (58%) of respondents mentioned the integration of battery storage systems, closely followed by commercial solar integration (49%) and electric vehicle infrastructure (49%).  

Smart grids, automation and policy reforms (legislation, regulations, licencing and permitting rules) are expected to be the most powerful enablers of a successful energy transition, where success achieves a balance between speed, quality, stability, and costs.   

Guy Nicholson, Grid Manager at Statkraft, reflects:  “We need immediate connections for storage, as well as transmission reinforcements, while a finance mechanism to trigger investment in long-duration energy storage would drive innovation and price reductions.”  

The two biggest barriers to a faster transition are split between governance and technological  issues. A lack of policy (or government) support is the top barrier, closely followed by the capacity constraints of existing grid infrastructure.  

Unlike the iterative changes implemented in the past, future-proofing our grids calls for a radical makeover – a difficult challenge to tackle as we need to keep them functional throughout the evolution that must occur. 

Ditlev Engel, CEO of Energy Systems at DNV
Ditlev Engel, CEO of Energy Systems at DNV

“Power grids are the backbone of our energy system and crucial for the rise of renewable energy and achieving the climate goals. We need huge investments to enable the integration of renewable energy sources, optimize energy storage facilities, expand the system, and achieve energy security. We are now entering a paradigm shift and the industry must be prepared to work collaboratively to prepare our power systems for the future: to transition much faster, we have to integrate new technologies, and encourage grid investment through forward-thinking policies and regulatory frameworks”, said Ditlev Engel, CEO of Energy Systems at DNV, “As confirmed in our yearly Energy Transition Outlook report over the last 6 years, massive growth in electrification of our societies is a very robust trend, which this report also confirms.”  

DNV predicts that electricity will double as a share of final global energy demand, from 19% to 38%, within the next 30 years. Despite the geopolitical and economic turmoil of 2022, 74% of respondents believe that the energy transition has either accelerated (45%) or not slowed (29%).  

The need to transition faster to a deeply decarbonized energy system is transforming the energy industry from within:  as highlighted by these responses, it is now clear that energy industry leaders see the transition accelerate and welcome it as more of an opportunity than a risk, but policy and actionable regulatory plans are lagging and have to pick up the pace to allow the important investments that are still lacking for a clean energy future.    

The complete analysis undertaken by DNV is now available here.

About the research    
Future-proofing our power grids explores the confidence, sentiment, and priorities for power grids in the year ahead. The research draws on DNV’s survey of 400 senior energy professionals contacted in 75 countries.     

A third of respondents (32%) work at a renewable energy producer, developer, or other renewable energy specialist. Close to a quarter (24%) work in the power transmission and/or distribution sectors.  Most respondents (78%) have a technical background such as engineering, science, or technology; while the remaining 22% have a non-technical background, such as business or finance.       

Future-proofing our power grids is published by DNV, the world’s leading resource of independent energy experts and technical advisors.

About DNV    
DNV is an independent assurance and risk management provider, operating in more than 100 countries. Through its broad experience and deep expertise DNV advances safety and sustainable performance, sets industry standards, and inspires and invents solutions.    

Whether assessing a new ship design, qualifying technology for a floating wind farm, analyzing sensor data from a gas pipeline or certifying a food company's supply chain, DNV enables its customers and their stakeholders to manage technological and regulatory complexity with confidence.       

Driven by its purpose, to safeguard life, property, and the environment, DNV helps its customers seize opportunities and tackle the risks arising from global transformations. DNV is a trusted voice for many of the world’s most successful and forward-thinking companies. 

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Future-proofing our power grids: Making mass electrification possible

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