Friday, March 10, 2017
The Utility Week Live 2017 transformation leaders and technologies
- For all utilities, transformation and flexibility are not
optional as they face the challenges ahead: they are the key to
Driving this change in culture are a number of
people, whilst a number of key technologies will enable and shape
the utilities' transformation and increasing
Utility Week Live 2017 has identified the 10 most
important transformation leaders and technologies, as voted for by
the industry themselves.
The ten individuals set out have embraced innovation
and driving change in their respective companies, across the
sector, and more widely. They are the leaders in the transformation
the utilities are undergoing towards becoming more flexible,
sustainable and suitable for the new world
we're all heading
These people are: Basil Scarsella, chief executive, UK
Power Networks; Ben Jeffs, director and chief executive, MOSL;
Cathryn Ross, chief executive, Ofwat; Cheryl Latham, chief
executive, Brighter World Energy; Dermot Nolan, chief executive,
Ofgem; Piers Clark, founder and chairman, Isle Utilities; Elon
Musk, founder and products architect, Tesla and chairman,
SolarCity; John Reynolds, chief executive, Castle Water; Simon
Harrison, group strategic development manager, Mott MacDonald, and
chair of the energy policy panel, IET; and Tony Cocker, chief
executive, Eon UK.
Over the coming months, Utility Week/WWT/WET News/Network
will speak to the top ten people, speak to people in the industry
about the influence and impact they have had, publish biographies
detailing their careers and key decisions, or hearing from them
direct with columns.
The ten technologies outlined opposite/below are
fundamentally changing the shape and look of the utilities sector -
in particular the energy side things. These include technologies
and innovations that are already a key part of
utilities'daily operations, and those
whose influence and impact is only going to grow in the coming
The top ten technologies are: cloud computing; demand
response and demand side management; electric vehicles; energy
storage, including battery technology; geographical information
systems (GIS); the Internet of Things (IoT); machine learning;
smart metering; solar; and wind.
Over the coming months, Utility Week/WWT/WET News/Network
will speak to experts in the technologies, look at examples of how
they have been rolled out and assess the impact they've had, look
at the numbers behind the innovations, and getting investor views
on the development of the technologies and how close they are to
transforming the business as usual operation in the
The Utility Week Live
2017 transformation technologies:
- Cloud computing - Cloud computing is a
general term for the delivery of hosted services over the internet.
It enables companies to use computer resources, such as data
storage or an application, as a utility, rather than having to
build and maintain computing infrastructures and servers in house.
This could enable multiple devices, including tablets and mobiles,
access to programmes and data remotely vie the internet.
- Demand response/demand side management -
Demand response and demand side management provides an
opportunity for consumers to play a significant role in the
operation of the electric grid by reducing or shifting their
electricity usage during peak periods in response to time-based
rates or other forms of financial incentives. The aim is to cut
peak loads and remove the need to reinforce energy networks by
better tying demand up with supply.
- Electric vehicles - The last three
years have seen a remarkable surge in demand for electric vehicles
in the UK - new registrations of plug-in
cars increased from 3,500 in 2013 to around 85,000 by January 2017.
The increase in the number of EVs will potentially put additional
strain on energy networks by increasing demand at peak times.
However, there is also the opportunity to utilise EVs as mobile
- Energy storage (including batteries) -
Energy storage (ES) technologies offer great potential for
supporting renewable energy and the UK's
energy system. The offer different ways to store the energy created
by variable renewable technologies at times when demand is low, but
supply is high. They will then be able to provide a variety of
services when needed. There are a variety of
energy storage solutions available and being developed, including
battery technologies, pumped storage, and mechanical storage.
- Geographical information systems (GIS) -
A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer system
for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to
positions on Earth's surface. GIS can show many different kinds of
data on one map. This enables people to more easily see, analyse,
and understand patterns and relationships. For utilities, this will
enable them to assess information about the land, such as the
location of factories, farms, and schools, or storm drains, roads,
and electric power lines.
- Internet of Things (IoT)
- Simply put, this is the concept of
basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the
Internet (and/or to each other). For utilities, this could enable a
variety of devices at different sites and locations to connect to
one another and to communicate and take orders from staff or
collectively follow programmes. This could include the safe
shutdown of assets at a substation in response to a failure, and
another asset responding to ensure continuity of supply. At a
domestic level, this could enable smart appliance to respond to
external signals to turn on or power down.
- Machine learning - Machine learning
is the field of computer science that gives computers the ability
to learn without being explicitly programmed. In the last decade
this has provided innovations such as self driving cars and
practical speech recognition. Moving forward, this could lead to
improved and automated network management.
- Smart metering - On a
basic level, smart meters are electronic devices that record
consumption of energy and communicate that information at back to
the utility for monitoring and billing. The UKs smart meter
programme is due to rollout 53 million smart gas and electricity
meters by 2020. The technology is also thought to be an enabler
technology, allowing for things such as 24 hour switching, smart
appliances within a connected home, and opening up smarter local
network management solutions.
- Solar - Solar
power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity. Within the
UK, 10 per cent of its renewable power comes from solar power, or
1.5% of total UK electricity. This comes from a total of 8GW of
solar PV which has been deployed so far. Solar is owned by 670,000
homeowners, and thousands of businesses, farmers, schools and
community groups. Despite cuts to subsides for the technology, it
is expected to continue growing as the government strives to meet
its carbon targets.
- Wind - The UK is one of the best
locations for wind power in the world, and is considered to be the
best in Europe. It contributed 11 per cent of UK electricity
generation in 2015, and 17 per cent in December 2015. The
deployment of wind power is set to increase, despite government
opposition to new onshore developments. Offshore wind is expected
to be the biggest growth area, with bigger turbines and larger
windfarms being developed.