Smart grid technologies of benefit to Asia-Pacific


Interview with Bryan Spear, Managing Director Asia Pacific, Trilliant

What are the current challenges in the industry?
The challenges of the industry vary largely by region. For example, some of North America’s challenges are modernizing an outdated grid, increasing energy and operational efficiencies, and the large number of the skilled workforce rapidly approaching retirement age. Europe is heavily focused on accommodating environmental mandates.

Asia, on the other hand is difficult to compare because of the size of the region and vast differences from one country to the next. Some are challenged simply by increasing electrification rates, while others are challenged by reliability, integration of renewables, and revenue management. However, I think a common theme of many utilities across the Asia-Pacific region is generation shortages. Energy consumption across the region is currently among the lowest in the world, however the growth is expected to far outpace the rest of the world. The supply is not growing proportionately with this demand, and this further magnifies some of the other challenges such as losses and reliability.
What’s your vision for the industry looking forward?
I believe that with the evolution of technology, the industry will look much different in 10-20 years from today. There will be major transformations but some will be more visible than others. First, the percentage of renewable generation will increase significantly, enabled by storage, bidirectional communications, and advanced software.

Second, consumers will become more engaged, and will be active participants in their energy usage and conservation. This will drive dramatic changes in the way utilities operate.

Where do you think Asia is heading in particular?
The challenges that we are hearing from utilities in the Asia-Pacific region are similar to what we have been hearing for the past several years, but what has changed is the relevancy and urgency. Utilities are facing real challenges, and they have an urgent need to make significant changes, therefore the deployment of smart grid technologies at large scale will likely accelerate.

I recently met with an energy minister who said “I can’t wait on bureaucratic processes and nationwide smart grid committees to come to consensus, I need the benefits now!”

What is on the Trilliant calendar this year?
Since our founding in the 1980s, I don’t think Trilliant has ever faced a more optimistic future. We placed big bets on technology development and these developments are precisely aligned with the needs of the market today. Our focus now is on global expansion.

Do you have specific plans for the Asian region?
Trilliant will continue to make significant investment into the Asia-Pacific region. Over the past year we have setup a regional office, built a local team, and successfully deployed initial projects. We believe we have unique competitive advantages in this market, and we are committed to developing lasting relationships with our customers here for the long term.

What are the projects you are most proud of so far?
Trilliant takes pride in being an end-to-end smart grid communications provider, and solving the problems of our customers. We have had some incredible opportunities to do this, and we are most proud of the strong partnerships we have developed with our customers, the mutual trust we have developed, and the tangible benefits they have realized.

What have been the challenges in regards to these projects?
During our initial large scale deployments 8-10 years ago, the challenges were around technology maturity. Today we are well past that point, our technology is mature and we have been through the learning curve, and technology is now easily deployed and performs exceptionally well.

Our challenge today is scaling our business globally and identifying and training the right partners in each region to ensure we are able to help our customers meet their commitments and support them for the long term.

What makes your company competitive in the market?
When it comes to large scale smart metering and smart grid deployments utilities seem to care most about risk and ability to meet commitments, a solution that will enable multiple technologies both today and in the future, and total cost of ownership. Trilliant made the decision years ago to base our end-to-end communications solutions on a standards-based, unlicensed platform. We have built the Trilliant communications platform to be extremely robust and scalable, and to allow utilities to manage multiple technologies under a single platform.

Trilliant provides the only unlicensed (2.4 GHz) AMI solution that has been proven at large scale, and this is the exact solution we have brought to the Asia-Pacific market. This significantly reduces the risk to our utility customers, and these factors appear to be very compelling to customers across this region. Moreover, rather than just a focus on smart metering, the Trilliant communications platform enables utilities to use the same platform for any smart grid applications – smart metering, smart distribution (distribution automation) or smart consumer. And last but not least, the Trilliant platform is purpose-built for the utility industry.
What will be your message at the upcoming event?
Utilities are facing real challenges in this region and it is clear that there are opportunities for existing smart grid technologies to bring tangible and significant value to both utilities and consumers in the near term. That is a huge benefit for these utilities and consumers, they have the ability to leverage a technology that has already been proven at large scale, and therefore their risk is greatly minimized and benefits can be realized right away.