2Q 2022

Increasing Non-Wires Alternatives Deployments

Non-wires alternatives (NWAs) projects use non-traditional transmission and distribution (T&D) solutions to defer or avoid the need for traditional grid infrastructure upgrades. The number of identified NWA opportunities has increased worldwide in recent years as utilities and grid operators look to modernize their systems in the wake of distributed energy resources (DER) and renewable energy capacity growth. Despite an increase in the number of identified projects, few have made it past the proposal stage, often due to low benefit-cost ratios or changes in projected load profiles.

To accommodate the growth in DER, electrified end uses, and the transition away from fossil fuels without sacrificing reliability, T&D systems will need to be upgraded. While NWAs will not be able to defer or avoid the need for all traditional upgrades, they are an essential tool that can alleviate the burden associated with upgrading the grid. NWAs relieve congestion on the grid, reduce its impact on the environment and surrounding communities while overcoming shortfalls of traditional grid infrastructure, and save money for all parties involved. Current evaluation methods, market structures, and regulations are limiting the success of NWAs. Moving forward, customers and third-party vendors will be instrumental in advancing them.

This Guidehouse Insights report discusses the evolution of NWAs and their role in the ongoing shift in the electric grid from fossil fuels to distributed, renewable sources. It provides recommendations for key stakeholders to increase the number of successfully deployed NWAs as electric grids are modernized in the energy transition.

Pages 18
Tables | Charts | Figures 5
  • What are non-wires alternatives?
  • Why have so few non-wires alternatives been implemented?
  • What is the role of non-wires alternatives in the energy transition?
  • What type of technology is commonly used in successful non-wires alternatives?
  • What advantages do non-wires alternatives offer over traditional grid upgrades?
  • How can more non-wires alternatives be successfully deployed?
  • Regulators and policymakers
  • Utilities
  • Grid operators
  • DER vendors
  • VPP software providers
  • DERMS vendors
  • DER aggregators
  • Investor community




The Power Grid Is Becoming More Distributed and Reliant on Variable Energy Sources

Non-Wires Alternatives Opportunities Are Increasing

Non-Wires Alternatives Projects Have Struggled to Succeed

Non-Wires Alternatives Are Critical in the Energy Transition

Current Evaluation Methods, Market Structures, and Regulations Inhibit Non-Wires Projects

Customers and Third-Party Vendors Are Vital to Non-Wires Deployments

Case Study: Swell Energy and Con Edison Partnership

Traditional Grid Infrastructure Is Limited by Geography

Case Study: Horizon Power Standalone Power Systems

Antiquated Structures and Relationships Must Change

DER Vendors, Aggregators, and Utilities Must Increase Engagement with Each Other and Their Customers

Regulators Must Create a Supportive Regulatory Environment for NWAs

Regulators Must Identify New Methods for Determining Revenu

  • Identified NWA Projects by Technology Location, World Markets: 3Q 2021
  • NODES Flex Market Pricing Data for Western Power Distribution
  • Pursued NWA Projects by Technology Location, World Markets: 3Q 2021
  • Value Proposition of DER Solutions
  • Pursued NWA Cost Information
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