The Digitalization of Power

September 7, 2018



For most of my life, music recordings had been played through mechanical devices that spun, from the phonograph to cassettes to CDs. Today, music is purely digital and the advances toward digitalization have radically changed how music is played and distributed. We no longer go to the record store to buy music and the number of artists with recordings that can be easily purchased has increased dramatically. Moreover, my CDs have become a stranded asset.

A similar transformation is underway with power supply, where generators that spin to produce electricity are being replaced by digital systems of solar plus batteries. The costs of digital power supply technology will continue to decline and displace conventional generation with technological advances. While future power systems will likely involve a significant portion of hydro and wind generation that still turn generators to produce electricity, the digital transformation of power supply has taken root. The continued advances in in digital power supply systems will provide more compelling and often unavoidable economic merit over traditional generation. This will continue to cause disruption to the power industry as inflexible thermal generation fall prey to technological advances of digital power systems and become stranded assets much like my CDs.

Gary Dorris, PhD

Dr. Dorris has been a pioneer of innovative solutions for energy risk management and portfolio planning for over two decades. For the past 20 years, Dr. Dorris has led the organic growth of Ascend to an industry-leading 150+ person energy analytics software and consulting company. He has been a pioneer of innovative solutions for modeling power markets to support real-time operations, portfolio management, and resource planning for over two decades. His expertise is highly sought after to provide board of director presentations, expert testimony on risk management, asset valuation, and resource planning, including acting as the lead expert witness for Merrill Lynch in the prominent Enron proceedings. He has performed independent market assessment to support over $30 billion dollars in project financing. He has been an advisor to multiple Boards of Directors. Prior to founding Ascend, Dr. Dorris served as CEO of e-Acumen, a 60-person energy analytics software firm. He began his career developing structured power transactions at Citizens Power & Light.