Environmental compliance. Energy conservation. Digitalization. The electric power system is undergoing profound change. ‘Smart’ grids are addressing the operational inefficiencies of the aging infrastructure in existing electricity distribution grids and to place greater emphasis on demand response. At any one time, an estimated 15 trillion watts of power are being used across the planet – that’s the equivalent of powering ten billion 100-watt light bulbs simultaneously.
No wonder that power transmission, distribution, and storage (TDS) is experiencing the fastest employment growth in the energy sector. Over 2.3 million Americans are employed in the power transmission, distribution and storage sector, with battery storage jobs generating 9,500 new jobs in 2018 at a growth rate of 18%. The majority of job growth being stimulated by grid or other utility-funded modernization projects according to the National Association of State Energy Officials.
Energy efficiency also continues to be a hot topic that drives debate within the power sector. Since the 1970s, improvement in energy efficiency in 11 of the International Energy Agency (IEA) member countries has saved 1.4 billion tonnes of oil per year – worth a colossal $743bn. As the climate crisis deepens, major investment in energy efficiency has increased to help tackle the issue. In 2018, $221bn was invested worldwide, up six percent from 2017.
At the local level, states are taking undertaking initiatives to modernize their substations and improve sustainability for the future. For example, the The New York Power Authority (NYPA) Board of Trustees last month approved $34.3 million as part of a comprehensive Transmission Life Extension and Modernization program to upgrade NYPA’s transmission system to maintain availability and increase reliability. These improves are set to be rolled out through 2025, include improvements to transmission assets along transmission lines, switchyards and substations throughout New York and surrounding states.
In the US, energy efficiency employs 2.35 million Americans in the design, installation and manufacturing of products and services according to the Energy Futures Initiative – accounting for half of the energy sector’s entire job growth in 2018 and one of out every four jobs, a number that is only expected to grow over the next decade.