Energy and Utilities Trends and Opportunities

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EnergyUtility

FountainBlue’s May 4 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Energy and Utilities Trends and Predictions’, hosted by EPRI.

The focus on generating and distributing a reliable, cost-effective energy source remains the goals of our consumers, companies, utilities, cities and countries. But the needs of the “customer” are making that progressively more difficult. Couple that with the tech-savvy, real-time update needs of empowered customers around the world and the problem seems almost impossible to solve. 

Our executives in attendance all remarked on the mega trends around the energy sector and how they are impacting everyone across industries, across geographies, across technologies. Keys to managing and staying on top of these trends include:

  • The need to collaborate across sectors, technologies, companies, and nations to provide solutions which optimize energy generation, leverage sustainable practices, and manage storage and distribution for maximum benefit for all stakeholders.
  • Enterprise Customers need to actively become involved in defining the problems faces, adopting technologies which optimize benefits for all.
  • Policy-makers need to be more flexible and open to change, for changes need to be made to support the massive energy demands of customers.
  • Local utilities serve both the commercial and consumer markets. Providing proven, scalable and sustainable solutions will remain challenging. Partnering with other utilities and other organizations will help develop communities, share learnings and resources, and better anticipate and address energy-related needs and concerns of customers.
  • As customers get more involved with generation through solar, wind and other renewables, it helps in some ways by increasing the amount of available energy, but also complicates matters and puts a strain on the grid as well, for generation happens only at certain times of day.

Below are some of the opportunity areas mentioned in the discussion:

  • The nexus between energy and water  
  • Microgrids to provide energy to smaller villages
  • Using data-rich, crowd-sourced reports to inform stakeholders, customers, policy-makers, etc.,
  • Apps and business models which use energy as part of the shared economy
  • Cybersecurity: Nuclear, Power Delivery, Generation, Storage
  • Lithium and Cobalt batteries and how they can be better mined and recycled
  • Recycling of batteries in general
  • AI and big data solutions around energy at work and at home
  • Smart mobility which help communicate energy needs
  • Smart city solutions which help generate, distribute, manage energy
  • Robotics solutions around energy generation and distribution
  • Utility-owned batteries
  • Hydrogen fuel cells

We repeatedly remarked on how empowered customers, volume of data generated, huge international markets, sustainability demands, the power of the millennial generation and other factors will all significantly impact our growing need for energy.

The challenge is how we can also consider all these factors in creating long-term and short term goals, while serving local, regional and international markets. Success factors might include:

  • Creating and supporting collaborative networks focused on creating innovation around energy
  • Supporting win-win solutions for this vibrant ecosystem of stakeholders 
  • Accepting and working with slow-moving, fragmented utilities, outdated infrastructure to make this happen
  • Designing the types of dynamic AI, HW and SW (vs static), data-based, flexible and scalable solutions which will serve the customer base
  • Designing for a long-term view, while supporting the short term revenue needs for key stakeholders

The onus will always be on each of us, as leaders in technology and business, across roles, companies, sectors and nations, to collaboratively deliver solutions which work for all.

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