Electric Company Investments for 21st Century Electrification

  • Daniel NollEmail author
  • Jessica McDonald
Electrification (J Logan, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Electrification


Purpose of Review

This review highlights electric company strategies and practices that support end-use electrification amidst a global transformation of electric power systems, emphasizing near-term opportunities related to transportation and rural energy access, as well as enabling conditions for electrification pathways.

Recent Findings

Electrification is an integral part of twenty-first-century energy system transformation. Accelerated deployment of electric technologies can result in multiple potential benefits, including reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, improved air quality, lower costs, and better performance within specific energy end uses and the overall electricity system. Electric companies are actively supporting electrification with investments that further integrate the electric power system with transportation, buildings, agriculture, and other end-use sectors. Related investments in clean energy and smart infrastructure can ensure that electrification measures maximize their potential value to consumers, businesses, and society.


With detailed knowledge of existing infrastructure, operational requirements, and end-user behavior and preferences, electric companies are uniquely positioned to inform electrification choices and ensure that infrastructure investments are made at the lowest cost to consumers.


Electrification Electric vehicles Clean energy Smart grids Smart energy infrastructure 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

  1. 1.
    O’Connor P, Cleveland CJ, U.S. Energy transitions 1780-2010. Energies. 2014;7:7955–93. Scholar
  2. 2.
    Hunter LC, Bryant L. A history of industrial power in the U.S., 1780–1930. The Transmission of Power MIT Press. 1991;3.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Beaudreau BC. The impact of electric power on productivity: a study of US manufacturing 1950–1984. Energy Economics. 1995;17:231–6. Scholar
  4. 4.
    Burke PJ, Stern DI, Bruns SB. The impact of electricity on economic development: a macroeconomic perspective. International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics. 2018;12:85–127. Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bazilian M, Mackay M, Detchon R, et al. Accelerating the global transformation to 21st century power systems. The Electricity Journal. 2013;26:39–51, ISSN 1040–6190. Scholar
  6. 6.
    • Zinaman O, Miller M, Adil A, Arent D, Cochran J, et al. Power systems of the future: a 21st century power partnership thought leadership report. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. 2015. Web. doi: Accessed 3 Sept 2019. This paper develops a typology of power system transformation pathways.
  7. 7.
    International Energy Agency. Status report on power system transformation: Systems integration and local grids. 2017. Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  8. 8.
    Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Electric vehicle outlook. 2019. Accessed 7 Jul 2019.
  9. 9.
    Cooper A, Schefter K. Electric vehicle sales forecast and the charging infrastructure required through 2030. Edison Foundation 2018. Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  10. 10.
    International Energy Agency. Global EV Outlook. 2019. Accessed 12 Jul 2019.
  11. 11.
    Lambert F. All-electric ferry cuts emission by 95% and costs by 80%, brings in 53 additional orders. Electrek. 2018. Accessed 10 Jul 2019.
  12. 12.
    Transport and Environment. Roadmap to decarbonising european aviation. 2018. Accessed 12 Sept 2019.
  13. 13.
    Edison Electric Institute. Electric transportation –survey of EEI International Members. 2018. Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  14. 14.
    Energias de Portugal. App EV.X. Innovation at Energias de Portugal. (2018). Accessed 12 Jul 2019.
  15. 15.
    • Smart Electric Power Alliance. Utilities and electric vehicles: evolving to unlock grid value. 2018. Accessed 3 Sept 2019. This paper provides a comprehensive overview of electric company EV programs, activities, and broader progress to support the electric vehicle market.
  16. 16.
    Edison Electric Institute. EV trends and key issues. 2019. Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  17. 17.
    Hall D, Lutsey N. Emerging best practices for electric vehicle charging infrastructure. 2017. Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  18. 18.
    UPS. Curve ahead: the future of commercial fleet electrification. 2018. Accessed 8 Jul 2019.
  19. 19.
    Lommele S, Dafoe W. Utilities power change: Engaging commercial customers in workplace charging. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. United States Department of Energy. 2016. Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  20. 20.
    Weiss J, Castaner M, Lee T. Electrification: EU opportunities for utility growth. Brattle Group. 2018. Accessed 11 Jul 2019.
  21. 21.
    UK Power Networks. Active response to distribution network constraints: network innovation competition 2017 Submission. 2017. Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  22. 22.
    • Lowder T, Logan J, Chen E. Innovative utility offerings at the distribution edge: case studies from around the globe. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. 2019. NREL/TP-7A40–73800. Accessed 3 Sept 2019. This paper showcases a wide range of innovative electric company customer services in transport, electricity access, and other areas.
  23. 23.
    Patella DP, Perchel A, Goldenbery IJ, et al. Electric mobility and development. World Bank and International Association of Public Transport. 2018. Accessed 7 Jul 2019.
  24. 24.
    •• Hall D, Lutsey N. Literature review on power utility best practices regarding electric vehicles. ICCT. 2017. Accessed 3 Sept 2019. This paper summarizes electric company practices to promote the integration of electric vehicles.
  25. 25.
    ENEL. Nissan and Enel launch groundbreaking vehicle-to-grid project in the UK. 2016. Accessed 20 July 2019.
  26. 26.
    Lambert F. Nissan to launch a new vehicle-to-grid project with Enel in the UK. Electrek. 2016. Accessed 20 Jul 2019.
  27. 27.
    The Climate Group. EV100 members. (2019). Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  28. 28.
    Edison Electric Institute. EEI fleet electrification list as of July 2015. 2015. Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  29. 29.
    Edison Electric Institute. EEI announces industry commitment to fleet electrification at White House roundtable. (2014). Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  30. 30.
    EDF. EDF Group to convert whole fleet of cars to electric vehicles by 2030. (2017). Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  31. 31.
    EDP. EDP joins the global commitment for transition to electric fleets. (2019). Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  32. 32.
    ENGIE. Engie joins with other large van fleet operators to launch Clean Van Commitment to tackle air quality in cities. (2017). Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  33. 33.
    Ontario Power Generation. OPG joins EV100 group, pledges commitment to electric vehicle fleet. (2019). Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  34. 34.
    Orstead. Orsted switches to electric vehicles. (2019). Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  35. 35.
    TEPCO. TEPCO becomes first Japanese energy company to join global EV100 and EV30@30 campaign – aiming to convert 100% of own commercial vehicles to EVs by 2030. (2019). Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  36. 36.
    Vattenfall. Vattenfall joins EV100 to push for the transition to electric vehicles. (2017). Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  37. 37.
    Fortis. Wataynikaneyap power project funding announced – Fortis updates five-year capital investment plan. (2018). Accessed 21 July 2019.
  38. 38.
    Nygaard I, Dafrallah T. Utility led rural electrification in Morocco: combining grid extension, minigrids, and solar home systems. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment. 2016;5(2):155–68. Scholar
  39. 39.
    Pellicer, Eric. A standalone power supply alternative to traditional overheard lines. T&D World. 2019. Accessed 21 Jul 2019.
  40. 40.
    Powerco. Base Power. (2019). Accessed 21 Jul 2019.
  41. 41.
    ESMAP. Minigrids and the arrival of the main grid: lessons from Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia. World Bank Group. 2018. Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  42. 42.
    ESMAP. Mini grids for timely and low-cost electrification in Ghana: Exploring regulatory and business models for electrifying the Lake Volta region. World Bank Group. 2017. Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  43. 43.
    Hirsch A, Parag Y, Guerrero J. Microgrids: a review of technologies, key drivers, and outstanding issues. Renew Sust Energ Rev. 2018;90:402–11. Scholar
  44. 44.
    Burger A. CleanGrid partners sets out to change the way sustainable energy, grid electrification is done. Solar Magazine 2019. Accessed 13 Aug 2019.
  45. 45.
    IFC. From gap to opportunity: business models for scaling up energy access: In partnership with Austria. 2012. Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  46. 46.
    Power for All. Utilities 2.0: integrated energy for optimal impact. 2019. Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  47. 47.
    •• Deason J, Wei M, Leventis G, Smith S, Schwartz L. Electrification of buildings and industry in the United States: drivers, barriers, prospects, and policy approaches. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Energy Analysis and Environmental Impacts Division. 2018. Accessed 3 Sept 2019. This paper identifies and categorizes multiple benefits of electrifying building and industrial end-uses.
  48. 48.
    Davis, Lisa. How ‘electrifying’ the energy sector can decarbonize the world. World Economic Forum 2018. Accessed Sept 3 2019.
  49. 49.
  50. 50.
    NRECA. Beneficial electrification C&I case studies. 2018. Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  51. 51.
    Edison Electric Institute. Delivering America’s energy future: electric power industry outlook. 2019. Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  52. 52.
    UK Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy. 2018 UK greenhouse gas emissions, provisional figures 2019. Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  53. 53.
    International Energy Agency. World energy investment outlook. 2019. Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  54. 54.
    National Grid. Northeast 80x50 pathway. 2018. Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  55. 55.
  56. 56.
  57. 57.
    Jones L. Renewable energy integration: practical management of variability, uncertainty, and flexibility in power grids. 2nd ed. Academic Press; 2017.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    International Energy Agency. Status of power system transformation 2019. Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  59. 59.
    Jones L. Strategies and decision support systems for integrating variable energy resources in control centers for reliable grid operations. US DOE EE Office of Wind and Hydropower Technologies (EE-2B). 2012. doi:
  60. 60.
    Weiss J, Tsuchida B. Integrating renewable energy into the electricity grid: Case studies showing how system operators are maintaining reliability investments in electrification. Brattle Group. 2015. Accessed 13 Jul 2019.
  61. 61.
    SWECO. Study on the effective integration of distributed energy resources for providing flexibility to the electricity system: Final report to the European Commission. 2015. Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  62. 62.
    Edison Electric Institute. Smarter energy infrastructure: The critical role and value of electric transmission. 2019. Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  63. 63.
    •• Weiss J, Hagerty JM, Castañer M. The coming electrification of the north American economy: why we need a robust transmission grid. WIRES. 2019. Accessed 3 Sept 2019. This paper highlights the value of transmission for achieving clean energy and electrification goals.
  64. 64.
    Hand MM, Baldwin S, DeMeo E, Reilly JM, Mai T, Arent D, et al. Renewable electricity futures study - bulk electric power systems: operations and transmission planning. National Renewable Energy Laboratory 2012. Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  65. 65.
    Wood E, Rames C, Muratori M, et al. National plug-in electric vehicle infrastructure analysis. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. U.S. Department of Energy. 2017. Accessed 3 Sept 2019.
  66. 66.
    International Energy Agency. World Energy Investment. 2019. Accessed 13 Aug 2019.
  67. 67.
    • Aaronson S. Utility investments in Resilience of Electricity Systems. 2019. Accessed September 4, 2019.This paper highlights how investments in network infrastructure are necessary to create a secure and resilient electricity system.
  68. 68.
    International Energy Agency. World Energy Outlook. 2018. Accessed September 2, 2019.
  69. 69.
    IPCC. IAMC 1.5°C scenario explorer: hosted by IIASA. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 2018. Accessed 3 Sept 2019. IPCC.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Edison Electric InstituteWashingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations