4 Thanksgiving Tips for Power Utilities
image credit: Greenbird Integration Technology
- Nov 29, 2019 2:52 pm GMT
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Here’s a fun power utility Thanksgiving fact: it will take 113,500 wind turbines an hour to produce the energy needed to cook America’s Thanksgiving Day turkeys. Even with all that cooking (and all the football watched on TV) electricity consumption actually falls on Thanksgiving Day as manufacturers and businesses take a break. Of course, utilities themselves can never take a break, but as hardworking utility professionals power down for a few hours, here are some tips we can take away from the Thanksgiving festivities.
1. Innovation is Essential
Who invented marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes? Probably not the Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving. Even the most traditional of meals evolves over time as new ideas spread and fresh ingredients are discovered. Innovations very soon become part of life.
For today’s utilities, innovation and change cannot be a gradual process. The energy landscape is changing rapidly, and utilities are at the vanguard of this change. The UN has just released a report arguing that we must increase the rate at which we cut emissions to stop climate change. Utilities must spearhead these efforts and accelerate the energy transition.
These innovations can be challenging, but it is also an exciting time to be working in the sector. Emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning promise to transform what the industry can achieve with its data.
Utilities have the opportunity to innovate a new model for their business, one that incorporates Electric Vehicle (EV) charging, Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) and Microgrids.
2. Mix it Up with the Seating Plan: Startups and Utilities make Great Partners
Have you ever been surprised how seeming opposites attract and the most unlikely of dining partners can hit it off? The youngsters and the older folk often get along great if you seat them together. That outspoken aunt and the quiet teenager can surprise you with their in-depth conversations.
We’ve noticed that fast-paced startups and established utilities also have a great deal to talk about and make great partners. Utilities are large organizations and often the guardians of critical infrastructure. They cannot, and should not, jump on every trend that comes along. They tend to move at a slower pace than agile, fast-paced startups. The startups benefit from the wealth of experience that the utilities have in the energy sector, while offering the utilities cutting-edge technology skills and the ability to innovate quickly.
Together, they form a powerful partnership.
3. Meticulous Planning is Essential: Make Data Your Friend
Thanksgiving doesn’t just happen. Whether you’re organizing the Macy’s Parade or a family reunion there’s a lot of planning involved. The more information you have, the better able you are to make things run smoothly.
Utilities are also able to operate more smoothly with accessible data. Utilities are data-rich organizations. Often the issue is accessing data. This is where effective data integration can transform utilities into digital organizations.
North America was an early adopter of Smart Meter technology and the sector is pushing forward with the second generation of Smart Meters. Data-driven smart grids allow energy companies to build a detailed picture of energy production, distribution and consumption. This enables them to plan for the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources, and increased energy usage, for example, from EV charging.
Speeding up the integration of renewables into the grid not only helps utilities’ planning, it also helps accelerate the energy transition.
4. It’s all About Bringing People Together: A Collaborative Energy Sector
While food is a vital ingredient in the celebrations, the most important part of Thanksgiving is getting together with family and friends. As you begin to carve your turkey, you can be sure that just about everyone else in the U.S. is doing the exact same.
A sense of being part of a greater community is a major trend in the European energy sector where we see a shift in attitude from competition to collaboration.
The industry is beginning to discuss a sharing economy for energy data and energy insight applications. This goes hand in hand with a trend towards a platformed utility model. In this model, data flows are integrated from third parties or even competitors, for example from DERs, Microgrids or EV charging points.
Utilities are also shifting towards a more collaborative relationship with their customers. Often the drive for change in the energy sector has originated from consumers. Utilities must become more customer focused and use their data to provide the services that people want.