25 Years: A story of evolution – 2016-2021


Part 5 of our walk through the archives as we document the changes and milestones in the evolution of the smart energy sector over the past 25 years.

Part 1: 1996-2000
Part 2: 2001-2005
Part 3: 2006-2010
Part 4: 2011-2015

The story of Smart Energy International’s evolution mirrors that of the dynamic global energy sector. Here’s a recap of some of the milestones from around the world since 2016.


Issue 6/2016
  • Paris Agreement enters in force
  • The ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation 2016-2025 (APAEC) identifies opportunities to shape the energy development of the region. Phase one (2016-2020) includes increasing multilateral power trading between members with the aim of making the ASEAN Power Grid a reality.
  • Shell spends a reported $2bn on setting up a low carbon energy and electricity generation business, an example of big oil’s trend to transition to cleaner energy, largely through acquisitions
  • LO3 Energy pioneers blockchain in the energy sector with the Brooklyn microgrid peer-to-peer trading initiative
  • Spain’s nationwide smart meter rollout reaches75% completion with utilities having rolled out19 million residential electricity meters
  • Tesla announces its ‘most affordable’ EV, Tesla 3, which attracts over 180,000 pre-orders in the first 24 hours.


Issue 5/2017
  • Under President Donald Trump, the US withdraws from the Paris Climate Agreement in the same year that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concludes that climate change was caused and accelerated by human activity.
  • Britain’s smart meter rollout highlights a general lack of trust in the energy industry. Consumers find it difficult to comprehend why profit-motivated energy suppliers would want them to reduce their consumption.
  • Smart Cities: The opportunities offered by changes in energy infrastructure and energy markets gain recognition while utilities find themselves stuck between the need to provide are liable service and the pressure to innovate.
  • Utilities in Asia are looking beyond the scope of their traditional business models and coal-fired plants, shifting toward adopting cleaner, distributed power solutions and digital technology.
  • ComEd trials community energy storage toward improving reliability in residential areas.


Issue 4/2018
  • Itron completes the acquisition of Silver Spring Networks to drive innovation and growth in IoT.
  • The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force. It also addresses the transfer of personal data outside the EU and European Economic Area.
  • World’s first Hydrogen-Powered passenger train, the Coradia iLint, begins service in Germany.
  • FridaysForFuture global climate strikes, led by Greta Thunberg, put pressure on the decarbonisation of the industry.


Issue 5 /2019
  • As the lines between the generation and T&D sectors blur, Issue 5/2019 is the first edition to include Power Engineering International as the publications join forces. In parallel, Enlit is launched, bringing together Utility Week and POWERGEN events around the world. Enlit aims to be the inclusive guide to the energy transition.
  • Nationwide, recurring electrical blackouts rock Venezuela. President Nicolás Maduro’s administration attributes them to sabotage.
  • South Korea becomes the first country to adopt 5G
  • The EU Open Data Directive and the Regulation on the free flow of nonpersonal data enter into force, providing rules for government-held data and removing obstacles to the free movement of non-personal data.
  • In China the first large battery storage pilot project aimed at maximising clean energy output to improve grid stability is approved.
  • Once the benchmark for global power utilities, Eskom’s debt crisis is the biggest liability to South Africa’s economy, representing 15% of the country’s debt, as rolling blackouts impact Africa’s largest economy.



Issue 3 /2020
  • A month after the WHO declares the novel coronavirus a pandemic, the oil price reaches an historic low, below $20.
  • In the US, the Green New Deal proposals call for public policy to address climate change


Issue 1/2021
  • The US rejoins the Paris Agreement
  • Severe winter storms cause the Texas power crisis. Isolation from the two major national grids – done in an effort to avoid federal oversight and deregulate its energy sector – make it difficult to import electricity from other states. Debates around utility preparedness and climate change are at the centre of the controversy.
  • The EU DSO Entity is founded by the four major European DSO associations, finally giving them an organisation equivalent to that of the TSOs, ENTSO-E.