We’ve wrapped up another year at DistribuTECH, and we’re leaving Orlando feeling invigorated and excited about the industry, the innovation, and the future in general. We met some very interesting folks, saw some excellent keynotes, and caught up on some neat products that will be coming through the market.
One the final day, the prevailing message on Day 3 that we came away with is cost-effective grid management. Now, “cost-effective” means many different things, including modernization, streamlined distribution, and better automation, so hearing the differing perspectives was an exercise in comprehensive understanding!
What’s Next for the Grid in a “Distributed World”?
GreenTech Media summed it up nicely when they wrote, “the impact of distributed energy on the utility business is no longer theoretical – it is very real.” What this means for the industry-at-large is that change is coming, and it’s coming in the form of innovative distribution technologies driven largely by the consumer, which is a departure from the traditional motivations of the energy industry:
A broad range of distributed technologies are converging on the edge of the grid — creating a more dynamic power system, with multi-way energy flows, engaged consumers, and many more market players.
This technology transformation (and the resulting change in customer behavior) is been driven by vendors, regulators and utility customers — with the pace of transformation accelerating each year. The seriousness about that pace of change was evident at DistribuTech.
— Daffron & Associates (@DaffronAssoc) February 12, 2016
As, GTM noted, Distributed energy resources (DERS) was top-of-mind for many of the attendees, and Utility Dive put together a nice article outlining the importance of these technologies:
… in the 21st century, new distributed energy technologies are breaking down the paradigm of the “natural monopoly.” The introduction of new customer-sited generation and storage technologies require a grid capable of managing two-way power flows and integrating high levels of intermittent resources in real time.
It is also noted that as the DERS technology continues to mature, the monitoring technology must mature along with it. Machine-to-Machine (M2M), Industrial IoT, and Sensor-2-Server communications will continue to grow in importance as utility companies need to be better able to transport data to feed into predictive analytics.
Another interesting conversation piece we encountered was the idea of utilities transitioning from simply selling energy to also selling services. It is happening in Europe, and some at DistribuTECH this year predict that change will come to the United States in the near future!
In Europe utilties selling services as well as energy; this likely to happen in U.S., says AutoGrid's John McLean. Heard at #DTECH2016
— Rod Walton (@rodwaltonelp) February 12, 2016
— Capgemini North America (@CapgeminiNA) February 12, 2016
One of the best parts about having DistribuTECH so early in the year is that it gives everyone a chance to be optimistic about what lies ahead. It’s a new year, it’s a new world of utility and energy tech innovation, and as we head back to Boulder, we’ve got an eye to the future!
— FreeWaveTechnologies (@freewavetech) February 12, 2016