The large utility infrastructure networks that were built throughout the 20th century underpinned the expansionist model of the linear economy. Centrally monitored electricity, gas and water networks ensured that supply matched demand, and the wires and pipelines were tailored and expanded to meet all customers’ needs. These infrastructure assets were often organized under a monopoly regime, even in deregulated industries, so that the system operator could make all the necessary investments needed to develop the market. But as we strive towards a system change, replacing linear business models with circular, impact-integrating strategies, network infrastructures are at the core of a major shift. From low-risk, low-return physical assets, they are being transformed into smart grids….

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Margarita Pirovska, PhD, is the Policy & Sustainability Analyst at Cornerstone Capital Inc. and former Project Manager at GDF Suez in the Sustainable Development Division.

Michael Shavel, CFA is a Research & Business Analyst at Cornerstone Capital Inc. and a former Research Analyst on AllianceBernstein’s Global Growth & Thematic team.