Savvy utility leaders know that there is no stopping the transition to new energy, especially after world leaders committed to a 100% renewable energy future in Paris last December. Couple this with the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution, and you are watching disruptive innovation tear through the grid edge.
In June I attended the Grid Edge World Forum in San Jose, Calif., to see how these changes are affecting the energy grid industry and what solutions are emerging to deal with it. For both new and old energy business models, success depends on making the right decisions at the right time. The IoT generates a plethora of data, which creates opportunities for improvements and efficiencies. But getting instant and actionable information from all that data is not an easy thing to do!
On day one of the forum, Jeroen Scheer of Alliander summarized the industry situation nicely. Driven by the market transition, he is transforming Alliander from a old-fashioned utility company into a data-driven energy company. In his words, “That’s the only way utilities can survive.”
Scheer also pointed out the challenges utilities are facing in this transformation. As with any other industry experiencing seismic changes, energy executives face a small army of software providers saying they can do “whatever you want,” which, as we all know, they cannot. Do not for a second think you can do it yourself. The road is littered with the corpses of companies who tried and failed. But do also not expect to hand it off to an outsourced contractor and receive a perfect product in return. Transforming your company will require active partnership with the right solution provider so together you can create a roadmap to success.
So how to pick a good partner? That is a blog by itself, but here are three solution providers that stood out to me during Grid Edge.
In Internet years, Itron is the dinosaur of the group, but one not to underestimate. Its new OpenWay Riva solution offers an IoT platform for edge devices to deliver distributed intelligence over Cisco networks. Itron was one of the recipients of the Greentech Media’s 2016 Grid Edge Awards during the Forum.
With a new $20M investment round announced in May this year, AutoGrid Systems is focusing on creating a smarter energy Internet. Core to their solution is their integration with Schneider Electric’s Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS). It will be interesting to see if and how the recent investments propel AutoGrid forward. AutoGrid was also one of the recipients of the 2016 Grid Edge Awards.
Since I favor agility, flexibility and speed, for me, Energyworx was the RockStar of the Grid Edge World Forum (to borrow metering.com’s nomenclature). They ingest enormous amounts of data from a flexible range of IoT and other sources, and then use Machine Learning to turn this data into key energy and grid insights with exceptional speed. Their services are powered by Google Cloud Platform, and operate on a true Software as a Service (SAAS) model. What stood out to me was their pricing. In addition to being one of the lowest in the industry, it is a real pay-as-you-go model. More importantly, users benefit from common features requested by the wider customer community at no additional cost.
These are exciting times in the energy grid world!