The Energy Industry in 2023: 6 New Year’s Resolutions for Power Utilities

2022 was the year the energy transition went mainstream. A global energy crisis and spiralling prices put the energy industry in the spotlight like never before. And it’s made the way we power our homes, businesses and transport an everyday topic of conversation in millions of homes.

Now that energy security has become a major concern across most regions, there’s a new focus on accelerating the energy transition.

But as the shift to renewables gathers fresh momentum, 2023 is the time for utilities to ensure infrastructure can handle the changes ahead. And for a modern distributed energy system that means ensuring IT infrastructure is fit for purpose.

Here are 6 New Year’s Resolutions for utilities

1. Prioritize Data-Driven Grid Modernization Across The Energy Industry
Grid resilience, energy security, flexibility – all major concerns for the energy industry in 2022. No wonder then we’ve had so many conversations about Grid Modernization at industry events over the last year.

The energy transition is accelerating. Global renewable power capacity is now expected to grow by 2,400 gigawatts between 2022-2027. That’s 30% more than was forecast just one year ago.

Distributed energy resources are being brought online as fast as the interconnection process allows. Electrification is gaining pace. As energy costs spiral, end-users want to monitor their energy use, and for some production, in real time.

This is all incredibly positive progress. But it also brings new challenges to DSOs. More electrification combined with the expansion of distributed energy resources mean greater fluctuations both in energy production and consumption. There’s now more pressure on the Low Voltage grid than ever before. Flexibility has become increasingly important while grid balancing more challenging.

It’s an extremely complex environment. But it’s become the new normal. To manage this, DSOs need:

  • To leverage realtime data
  • A holistic view of data from all utility systems, sensors and IoT devices.

This makes data-driven Grid Modernization the number one new year’s resolution for DSOs in 2022.

2. Re-Examine Your Utility’s IT Foundation
If Grid Modernization is the priority, how we get there is critical. And that means ensuring utility IT architecture is fit for purpose.

Updating operational technologies and expanding the use of sensors are central to the modernization process. But if the ultimate goal is flexibility, utilities need a holistic view of the data these systems and IoT devices are producing. And they need to access this data in real time.

That’s why many utilities are taking a fresh look at their IT Foundation. Can your data lake and data integration architecture handle the volume and performance real-time data will require? A modern platform using event driven architecture means you can integrate, harmonize and dynamically scale as the volume of real-time data changes.

3. Mirror A Distributed Grid With Distributed IT
All too often, monolithic IT architecture holds utilities back. Today’s energy environment needs flexible, innovative organizations that can rapidly adapt to change. A monolithic architecture gets in the way.

So, what’s the alternative?

As we shift to a distributed grid, we need to mirror this with distributed IT that can function across a wide geographic area. And this is what a composable approach achieves.

A data mesh provides the foundation. It enables easy access and data sharing across a distributed environment, even though data is captured and stored at the edge.

As data volumes and the number of data sources expand exponentially across the energy industry, composable data and systems give utilities the scalability and flexibility they need.

4. Keep On Top of Changing Consumer Behavior
2022 was the year that energy prices spiralled. Now, consumers are much more involved and interested in their energy supply and how much electricity is costing them. People are more open to new solutions and innovative offers.

For example, in some markets consumers are embracing demand response (DR) schemes. This is overturning past assumptions that DR programs are too complicated or too time-consuming for end-users to bother with.

The U.K.’s National Grid ESO has now run six DR tests operated by 26 providers. The first two tests overdelivered by 35%. During each of these tests, Octopus, one of the participating retailers, said its customers saved the equivalent amount of energy that a gas power station can produce in an hour.

So, what does this mean for utilities? A more involved consumer is more likely to switch when they find a better offer or a solution that’s a closer fit for their lifestyle. This means the switching process needs to be simple and automated. But it also means continuous innovation to attract new customers AND retain existing ones.

5. Prioritize Innovation
Consumers are looking for ways to become more involved energy sector participants. A recent survey found that:

  • 92% of consumers want new ‘digital bill capabilities’, including the ability to analyze usage.
  • 62% have bought or are considering buying solar panels.
  • 89% are interested in energy independence.

End-users now want to know how much it costs to run the different appliances in their homes. How much it saves them to turn the heating down a couple of degrees. And perhaps in the future, what it will cost them to buy 100 km of e-mobility.

Once again, it comes back to real-time data. Without this, consumers cannot monitor their energy consumption. Apps that supply only historical data are not going to engage consumers. A modern iPaaS solution not only delivers a single, holistic view of utility systems, it delivers the real-time data sharing and processing that today’s utilities need. This means utilities can innovate customer facing apps and services using the real-time information today’s consumers expect.

6. Get Ready For New Participants In The Energy Industry
As consumers search for innovative solutions, organizations from outside the sector are spotting opportunities. Numerous charging businesses are entering the market as people switch to Electric Vehicles (EVs). Electronics companies are introducing products that can help people monitor their energy use.

In the Netherlands, Rabobank is already offering its customers energy services while the Dutch AAA is giving members-only deals on energy prices. In the U.S. car manufacturers such as Hyundai and General Motors are selling EV/solar panel bundles.

These new market entrants are often setting the pace with new products and services. And while utilities need to match or outpace their levels of innovation, in many markets they will also have to work with them. Collaboration and data sharing between DSOs, retailers and all participants in the energy ecosystem (including consumers) will be an increasingly pressing topic.

These 6 New Year’s Resolutions offer a pathway to the future for energy utilities. But they all rely on effective data integration. This is now a business imperative. Because bad integration is slowing down innovation. It’s affecting the industry’s reaction to the energy crisis. It’s impeding the response to climate change.

And if we at Greenbird could have only one New Year wish it would be that data integration appeared on the agenda at board meetings in 2023.

About Greenbird
Greenbird is an international solution and technology company with roots in Norway. We simplify the complexity of Big Data Integration to help organizations unlock the value of their data and mission critical applications. Our flagship innovation, Utilihive, is a cloud-native platform combining enterprise integration capabilities with a data lake optimized for energy use cases. We founded Greenbird in 2010 with a mission to revolutionize how the energy industry thinks about enterprise system integration. Today, Utilihive is used by utilities across Europe, Middle East and Asia serving more than 50 million consumers. Greenbird is headquartered in Oslo and has around 50 employees, comprising primarily of senior developers and consultants and specializing in technology development and customer onboarding of the Utilihive platform. To learn how you can unleash the value of data while removing silos, explore Utilihive accelerators here.

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