UTILITY COMPANIES

Smart Energy International presents you with a selection of predictions from some of the foremost industry thought leaders and influencers, each of whom shares their thoughts on what 2019 could have in store.

Aurelio Blanquet, director, EDP

We will continue to move forward within this digitalisation era, which means that we are going to see even more information, more connectivity and we are going to ask for more real-time data and more real time decisions. To achieve this, I believe there will be a huge increase in the role of artificial intelligence in order to use, in a useful way, real time data and enable data driven decision making.

Michael Bates, general manager energy, Intel Corporation

There are a lot of things that come to mind; one of the things we will start seeing next year is the establishment of market places for utility customers to go to to engage in the products and services that the utilities are building to extend their relationships into homes and business. I think we were starting to see a little bit more of that last year and I think companies that are entering into that space will make it much easier for customers to participate.

I think the other interesting thing that is happening is the addition of technology and computing power being pushed to the edge of the grid; one for the management of the load, but mostly to gain more transparency about what’s happening on the edge of the grid. There is massive growth in consumer owned energy devices, whether it’s a thermostat or a battery or an EV, and utilities have little transparency around what they are seeing at the edge of the grid.

I am also very interested to see where blockchain goes. There has been a lot of hype around blockchain and how it could be used, but I would really like to see more examples of how edge settlement of transactions can occur using blockchain technologies.

Jurgen Hornman, venture principal, Shell Ventures

I think for the sector there will be more challengers and more non-traditional utility companies entering the market. People are already wondering whether an Apple, Amazon or a Google will enter the energy world with their massive customer base and customer insight.

I think, for Shell, you will continue to see investment in the power sector.

New Energies has a investment budget of $1 – $2 billion per year and we will continue to invest in new energies for both power and new fuels.

I hope to see more tangible product development and delivery within the blockchain space, more clarity and probably more consolidation of the mobility space, along with flexibility and optimisation of power. Some winners will start to emerge – whether they will consolidate or not we will see. I think it will be clear in a year’s time who the winners are in that area.

Sandra Trittin, co-founder and head of business development and marketing, Tiko Energy Solutions

I see two topics coming up. One is the topic of e-mobility. Electric cars are increasingly coming into the market, followed by the need for charging stations; and then it’s about how to balance the grid with all the charging stations and the cars being connected.

The other topic is security. We interconnect everything – we connect batteries, wind and solar farms and cars – but how do we connect it in a secure way? The topic of security will be, and has to be, more important for next year.

What we are seeing now and next year as well is more and more women coming into the industry, especially in leadership positions.

Peter Asman, vice president IIOT EMEA, Trilliant Networks

Platformed IoT solutions are going to change the way they fundamentally deliver the critical data to and from their customers; and my view is that over the next 12 months you are going to see IoT and the industrialised IoT platforms really making headway and supporting the sector to deliver more.

Kevin O’Donovan, technology evangelist and founder, A bit of This and That

If you look at all the investments the traditional oil and gas companies are undertaking – for example Total, Shell or BP – we will have a ‘utility’ show next year and I think we will see a lot of blurring of the lines between the utility and oil and gas sectors.

Christos Aslanidis, director of the Prime Alliance

We have been talking about smart metering and in this one field at the moment, the reality is that where installations are ongoing they have been driven by a big utility. These utilities are partial monopolies in the countries where they are active just due to their size, but in 2019 what we will see is that countries themselves are starting to role out this technology. The big utilities took the first steps and now it will be the smaller, fragmented markets that will follow.

In terms of new technology there are so many buzz words at the moment, and there will be discussion about alternative technologies. Broadband will be a big topic. I am sure in the German market there will be some movement towards installations with broadband PLC. I think we are going to complete what has started and at the same time, open new waves towards the future and this means a lot of discussion, a lot of it technology-centric.

Peter Kliegelhoefer, alternate director, Prime Alliance.

The telecom companies will gain an even more important role within this market. Just to give you an example – with electric vehicle charging.

Alexander Lewis-Jones, product manager, EV, Delta-ee

There is going to be increased consolidation. The trend of big utilities and oil companies getting in on the act. We have seen the likes of Total, Shell and BP doing so in various countries across the world. That’s an exciting trend.

There will be increased partnerships as well. So we may see an EDF or EON partnering with various charging partners in their countries. Looking at the new technology front, we need to start looking at others coming into play. Wireless technology is something that we seem to think is a long way off, but actually I think there will be a lot of innovative projects coming in 2019 that will focus on wireless, which will drive a lot of hype around that as well.

Phil Beecher, president & chief executive officer, Wi-SUN Alliance

We’re going to see far more standards based on interoperable technology. WiSUN has been supporting the idea of multi-service networks. So you don’t have a network just for smart metering or just for street lights; the network technology should be there for everything and you have different applications running on that platform.

Another thing that will happen in 2019 is going to be the integration of distribution automation with smart metering, an increase in edge computing in order to integrate renewables onto the grid and all of this relies on flexible communication.

David Green, research and analysis manager, smart utilities infrastructure, IHS

I think we are going to see “more of the same.” We are going to see even less focus on individual technologies, even less focus on hardware perhaps and a lot more focus on the total solution. Utilities are starting to switch on to different usages for their data, and we will see a lot more focus on individual applications, solving small problems well and then building on them with each iteration.

From a metering perspective, we are already pushing on 150 million metering shipments a year, and I think that will break through in 2019. At least 700 million meters are already installed, so the 1 billion number is only a couple of years away.

Anjos Njik, CEO, ENCS

It’s a difficult question because hopefully in terms of security there will be no major incidents, and we will continue to make progress. The main development that we face is the issue of the skill, the diversity and the sophistication of attacks is increasing.

I do not anticipate this to reach the energy sector anytime soon but we do need to be prepared as it is not impossible.

Frauke Thies, executive director, smartEn

Generally I would say customer centricity and consumers playing a new role. If we look specifically at the year 2019 it will be the year when hopefully Europe has adopted its clean energy package, meaning we will see the implementation of a new market design and if that goes well, then we will finally see an overhaul in the change of incentive structures for system operators. We will hopefully see markets opening to decentralised resources, not just centralised generation but actually allowing storage and demand response. We will hopefully also see a framework for service providers to enter the system with fair conditions.

Emad El Sewedy, CEO, El Sewedy

My prediction for 2019 is about what is driving us in the Prime Alliance in terms of integrating nonPLC and PLC technology. Ultimately, there is no single solution for communication across the utility landscape and in the end all that the customer is looking for is a technology that works. We are working to address the needs of our customers and work with them to provide them an integrated solution.