The power sector is constantly evolving, but rarely -- if ever -- has it experienced the rapid pace of change it faces today. The interaction between technological, economic and political forces is catalyzing what could become the most dramatic transformation of electricity in the past century.

In a new research brief, we identify and expand upon four primary trends shaping and directing this transformation globally. 

1) Decarbonization

Decarbonization is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector as a response to climate change. This includes the rapid expansion of variable renewable energy, coal-to-gas fuel switching, solutions for intermittency, and the evolution of power market design.

2) Decentralization

Decentralization is the transition of the electricity grid from one with primarily centralized generation and unidirectional power flows, to a more dynamic, localized network incorporating a wide array of distributed energy resources (DERs). This includes technology and market development both for electricity customers and utility companies, new distribution grid hardware and software, and a new regulatory paradigm for the power sector.

3) Vehicle electrification

We're at the beginning of the global proliferation of electric vehicles. This includes impacts on fuel demand, electricity loads and power markets. It will necessitate new electricity rate designs and business models, as well as distribution grid planning.

4) Energy access

Bringing modern solutions to the 1.2 billion people globally who remain without access to electricity, and bringing reliable power to the myriad more who face frequent service interruptions, will reshape the global power sector. This includes technical solutions ranging from grid extension to microgrids, policy and financing challenges, and impacts on overall energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions.

The free report briefly outlines each trend, notes its global status, and identifies key questions it invokes across the energy sector. Download the report here.