Three Energy Trends to Watch in 2024


With rapid technological advancements and an increasing emphasis on sustainability, the energy industry is seeing particularly transformative change. As global energy needs continue to grow, understanding the latest trends is important for stakeholders navigating the complex junction of innovation, policy, and environmental stewardship.

Industry response to these challenges includes innovations that help improve the infrastructure and resiliency of electric power systems, promote sustainable practices across the sector, and ensure the continued functioning and future of the world’s energy and electric systems for years to come.

Specifically, IEEE SA is watching key trends shaping the energy industry’s evolution, from the integration of renewable and alternative energy sources to improvements in transmission line technology and advancements in grid resilience.

Renewable/Alternative Energy Integration

With sustainability a major focus of organizations and governments across the world, it’s no surprise that integrating renewable and alternative energy sources into the grid will be a continuing trend in 2024. Wind and solar technologies will continue to remain, however other alternative energies including electric vehicle integration and a resurgence of nuclear power, plus advancements in energy storage systems will propel the industry forward.

Wind, Solar, Hydroelectric

Wind, solar, and, in certain regions, hydroelectric power and their associated integration technologies will have the biggest impact on available energy sources as renewable and low-carbon energy technologies continue their integration into the grid and reduce our reliance on coal and natural gas. While the past few years have focused on initial integration and management, with today’s expanded knowledge, we can now expect to see a more streamlined process, better-established safety measures, and cybersecurity protocols.

Electric Vehicles and Vehicle-to-Grid Integration

A new area of potentially increasing importance is electric vehicles (EVs) and specifically vehicle-to-grid (V2G) integration. In the last two decades the industry and regulators have identified traditional internal combustion engines as a large contributor of greenhouse gas emissions; consumers and regulatory bodies have pressed the automotive industry for coordinated sustainability initiatives aimed at reducing emissions. One way that manufacturers are responding is by adding electric and hybrid-electric vehicles to their fleets. While sales of electric vehicles have begun to ebb, EVs continue to grow their market share, reaching 7.6 percent of the overall market in 2023.

As the number of EV users increases, so will the number of consumers that use V2G charging options. Since V2G technology enables the transfer of electricity stored in an electric vehicle’s battery back to the grid, considerations for how to effectively manage this integration will be increasingly relevant. New integration technologies and standards for how to manage fast-charging loads and how to give permission for vehicles to charge at various times will be a focus as these factors can largely impact the overall system.

Nuclear Energy

While not in widespread use yet, it is worth noting that in the future, the industry may potentially see a resurgence of low-carbon nuclear energy sources being seriously considered for grid incorporation and to offset emissions. Ongoing climate crises and mounting pressure to find reliable, low-carbon power alternatives have led governments and global energy organizations to reconsider using nuclear energy.

The resurgence comes as a result of scientific advancements in nuclear technology and design. Specifically, recent advancements have helped streamline the development of small modular nuclear reactors. With nuclear power integration becoming a more viable option, the safety of nuclear energy integrations will be critical. Additionally, global energy leaders will focus on rigorous assessment of the construction of new plants and modular reactors, maintenance of aging plants, and development of nuclear components. To aid in this effort, the IEEE Nuclear Power Electrical Equipment Certification Program aims to improve nuclear safety by helping to certify components to meet the widely accepted qualification requirements of IEEE 60780-323™, IEEE 344™, and other related IEEE nuclear standards.

IEEE SA continues to work alongside industry stakeholders to develop and update standards that address all areas of renewable and alternative energy integration. In the next year, evolving iterations to standards such as IEEE 1547™ and IEEE 2800™ will address a wider range of issues that may occur during the integration, interconnection, or interoperability of distributed energy sources like renewables or electric vehicles with the associated electric power system interfaces. For example, IEEE 1547.2™ will expand on issues with applications for interconnecting these resources, while IEEE P2800.2™ will provide a consensus on more streamlined interconnection and testing procedures for Inverter-Based Resources (IBRs).

Additionally, with the grid having a higher penetration of renewables and alternative forms of energy, there is concern that the systems may need to operate differently to support this. In the coming years, more changes to standards such as IEEE 1547™ and IEEE 2800™ will be made to accommodate the high penetration of inverters. New standards will prescribe settings and enhance procedures for managing and correcting systems where there is a high penetration.

New Transmission Line Technologies

A well-functioning electric power system consists of a series of connected, interoperable components, all of which must function at full capacity for it to be effective. It is important that the industry continues to improve production, transmission, distribution, storage, and maintenance, including transmission line technology. These updates will be important for ongoing infrastructure hardening in preparation for extreme weather conditions and unprecedented natural disasters.

Most notably, transmission line technology will see the biggest impact from the advancements and increased integration of grid-forming inverters (GFM). Traditional grid-following inverters (GFL) rely on other synchronous generators to provide reference frequency. During an outage, those synchronous generators can be unavailable. In contrast to GFL, GFM control their own frequency output, making it possible for them to naturally support the local frequency while sharing a portion of the load change. As alternative energy sources proliferate, grid operators will need to add GFIs and other inverter-based resources (IRBs) to manage outages and restart the grid independently. GFIs can maintain system stability when there are zero synchronous machines, making them a potentially groundbreaking technology.

Grid Resilience

Within recent years, natural disasters such as the major ice storm and freeze event in the southern part of the United States, wildfires in Hawaii, and the global uptick in extreme temperatures have exposed critical weak spots in electric power systems across the world. For some systems, aging infrastructure has been further tested by these unexpected climate events. Whether it is aging wooden utility poles or state-wide grid failures, deteriorating power line connections, or poorly managed grid integrations, the potential for compromised infrastructure has prompted concern from regulators, consumers, and watchdog organizations for the better part of the last decade.

In light of this, key players are collaborating on solutions that address grid resiliency in the long term. IEEE SA has played a role in these efforts, facilitating the creation of standards of operation and maintenance that contribute to grid resiliency through further insulating the system from potential problems or changing original procedures to better reflect new, more resilient ways of operating.

Groups within IEEE have produced case studies and research analyzing major power system failures and issues, and have presented potential solutions. For example, the IEEE Power and Energy Society (IEEE PES) published a report analyzing the 2021 freeze event in the southern United States. This storm was more intense than the region was equipped to handle and left millions of people without power for days. The IEEE PES report outlines the overarching conditions, factors, and underlying issues of the disaster and analyzes the information to provide takeaways from the experience.

Throughout 2024 and beyond, we expect to see organizations continue to work together to find solutions for protecting and reinforcing weak points within our global power systems. Defining how resilience is measured in different contexts and how it can be assessed through calculations and sampling will be crucial to getting resiliency improvement efforts into the real world where extraordinary weather events become commonplace. A variety of standards, procedures, innovative technologies, and reinforced materials will be the main agents used to address and improve grid resiliency to ensure that power grids across the world can provide safe and reliable electric power for years to come.

Get Engaged with IEEE SA

This year, we can expect to see continued advancement of efforts and technology evolutions that will aid IEEE SA’s work to improve grid resiliency, efficiently integrate renewable energy into the electric power system, and utilize new transmission line technologies for increased operational efficiency.

Learn more about IEEE SA’s work in energy and sustainability and how you can get involved here. Participants not only have the opportunity to shape the future of the energy industry but have attested to improving their careers through active learning and participation in the IEEE SA Standards Development program.

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