There are three macro trends that Itron’s President and CEO Tom Deitrich believes will affect our industry in the near future:
- Environmental – #ClimateChange
- Social – Customer expectations
- Infrastructure – Resilience and Safety
During his keynote speech at the opening of the first regional Itron Utility Week (16-17 March) that kicked off this morning, Deitrich couldn’t stress enough the importance of each and every one of the three macrotrends. And while he was addressing the value of knowledge sharing in empowering innovation, he also argued that innovation is the key to battling environmental challenges. To put it in his own words: “Integration of renewable energy resources in our grid is the key to success”, referring to climate change and the various pandemics and misfortunes, like the devastating fires and the ice melting that it brings along.
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Addressing changes and empowering innovation in EMEA
The social part of the macro trends was mainly focused on the concept of the smart city, with examples that varied in cultural and geographical positioning. The cities of Paris, London, Glasgow and Copenhagen and their respective water and lightning solutions among others, came in the spotlight.
The President and CEO of Itron left the best, in my opinion, for last. Our ageing and vulnerable grid infrastructure. He is right that it is imperative that we focus on the reliability, safety and flexibility of our power grid. We don’t have to go far back in history to find compelling arguments to support his opinion. The examples of Texas and Npower are but very recent.
So, one could ask, how do we address these three macro trends and their impact on the utility sector? Enter Andrew Jones, Itron’s Sales VP. His keynote speech was all about how utilities can achieve Return on Investment despite or because of the three trends. And his answer to the question above, in short, is ‘with the three D’s’: Decarbonisation, decentralisation, digitalisation. They are intrinsically linked with the macro trends.
Decarbonisation, where the already growing renewable sector plays a major role, leading to more energy sustainability. Decentralisation, where the dispersion of generation to smaller plants and renewable ones (like hydro or wind) create new challenges but is very promising in the long run. And finally, digitalisation, the main focus of the European Commission and energy companies in Europe, and not only, for the past few years. As Jones argues, the implementation of digital techs to “manage, monitor and operate systems in the transmission and distribution of energy and demand creates more efficient and effective data management” while driving utilities to more service-based solutions.
All in all, one could not hope for a tastier appetiser of what is to come during this two-day event that Itron organised. With topics such as ‘Key to a successful grid modernization strategy’ and ‘Accelerating EV Adoption’, no doubt this event has things to say to all of us. But you don’t have to take my word for it. How about you visit the digital event and judge for yourselves?
Editor, Smart Energy International