Last month, I visited Austin, Texas to attend the Smart Energy summit. The summit was hosted by Park Associates and the focus was “Engaging the consumer”. Amongst the various topics, the summit primarily highlighted trends in smart energy pertaining to consumer behaviour and opportunities presented. Summit was attended by many Utilities majors, Energy providers, nextgen companies providing products and services related to energy to consumers and households.
First day, Park Associates team presented trends on various topics including Consumer Adoption of Smart Energy Solutions, Net Zero Homes, Solar energy, How to drive energy efficiency behavior through incentives and so on. It was very clear from the research the adoption of smart energy devices at home is increasing year-on year significantly. The large commercial houses and enterprises are keen on energy management solutions. Currently though the penetration is lower, the outlook for the next couple of years is very promising.
Insights worth noting:
A) 56% of US broadband households highly value an energy efficient home
B) 65% of smart thermostat owners are interested in a dealer service for device maintenance
C) The demand for energy efficient devices is increasing
On second day, we carefully examined Consumer behavior around energy efficiency and smart utilities. New strategies emerging around connected products are turning energy usage into a personal and community experience. Home energy reports, consumer portals, and mobile apps are helping consumers visualize and understand their energy usage. Demand charges and time-of-use tariffs are designed to incentivize behavioural change around energy usage at home. At the same time, Utilities are generating huge amount of data and leveraging this data to identify missing opportunities, strengthen customer relationship, realize new revenue streams, and modernize the grid operation are important aspects.
Key message with connected devices and huge amount of data present new opportunities in changing consumer behavior in energy usage, allows to incentivize good behavior, and offer real-time insights on energy usage. In his Keynote message, Aaron Berndt, the head of Central Region Energy Partnerships for Google and its Nest company highlighted the importance of tech savvy generation Z, the millennials who live and breath technology and are just entering into jobs market. By 2020, Gen Z will be the largest consumers in the USA with buying capacity. There is plenty of room to innovate digital technology based energy solutions.
The conference also looked at some of the latest changes such as emergence of Electric Vehicles, its impact on overall energy usage and energy market, government norms and policies in support of electric vehicles, etc. At the same time, we also discussed energy storage segment, unconventional energy sources such as Wind and Solar, their integration with traditional grid, and what role Utilities are going to play in integrating all these distributed energy sources.
Conclusion: Based on research shared at Summit and the research done by our company, the adoption of smart devices around home energy and commercial buildings is going to increase by 20% to 30% in next couple of years. We will witness more energy efficient devices and smart energy solutions and platforms in future. Possibly platforms will consolidate to create single platform solution for Energy profiles. It will help enterprises and home owners reduce overall energy usage and put better controls in everyone’s hand.
How do you see the future of smart energy market? Do you have any interesting perspectives to share? Do drop me a note, I would love to discuss with you further.