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The Global Smart Energy Elites 2015 The utilities of the future will certainly not look like the structures we have known for the last century” from the European Commission, the difficulties are in the EU Member States where the national regulatory authorities have a double mandate: on one hand they oversee the network operators as natural monopolies, but they also have a consumer protection task, which requires them to keep grid use fees as low as possible. It is easier for the network operators and the regulators to negotiate over investments in copper and steel to re- enforce the networks, opposed to adding intelligence to the system. However, given the progress of the debate on the EU-level on issues such as demand response and consumer participation in energy markets, we will see progress very soon. What are your top 3 predictions for the smart energy sector for the next 24 months. Customer engagement as catalyst for future success: The utility succeeding in engaging customers will not only protect its existing customer base – but will also gain a competitive edge and profile itself as a catalyst for further growth. All energy related activities will grow together. Today’s separation between the utility world, which traditionally ends at the meter point, home appliances such as water heaters, roof top solar panels and building control / smart home solutions will amalgamate in joint applications. This will allow for intelligent management based on energy availability and dynamic costs on one side and consumer requirements and priorities on the other. Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) are to become an integral element of utilities’ business strategy and daily business. They are the facilitators of the first two points. Smart metering is already providing massive data calling for powerful Head End and Data Analytics systems. Once in place, it is a natural step to link with other appliances, to allow for IoT which then offers new business opportunities to the owner of this ICT infrastructure. What do you think the utility of the future will look like? Is there any truth in the rumours of the demise of the utility? The utilities of the future will certainly not look like the structures we have known for the last century. I wouldn’t go so far as to predict the demise of the utility, but they will certainly have different forms. As the energy supply system becomes more dynamic and more decentralised, the businesses involved will have to become more flexible and agile as well. There will be many more actors in the field: smaller generators, aggregators, retailers, energy management companies. These new entities may or may not be part of a larger utility. The utilities will either have to adapt or they will be left behind. We are seeing some of that in Europe already, where utilities are being forced to re-think their business model. The utility of the future will no longer just be a supplier of energy, but it may also be a purchaser – from micro-generation, a service provider, a storage operator and may even run transportation infrastructure for electric vehicles. 65 From your perspective, what are the biggest challenges facing utilities today? For over a hundred years, the business model has been to generate electricity, transport and distribute that electricity to final consumers, whether they be factories, commercial enterprises or households and finally, collect payment. That model, where more energy sold equals more profit, is not the formula that will continue to be successful. There is a general consensus that what worked in the past, will not work in the future. There is a lot of hand-wringing however, about what comes next. Many of the things previously mentioned are still very diffuse. We know roughly in what direction developments are taking us, but the challenge for the utilities will be to work out the details. What do you see being the new technology or software that will be the next step in the smart energy revolution/evolution? It is not easy to isolate uniquely transformative technologies. However, if I had to pick one technology trend, it is the one surrounding big-data and the IoT. The global advanced metering infrastructure is already one of the largest deployments in the Internet of Things. What comes next are the applications which sit on top these massive data volumes being generated. Analytics drives business and consumer insights, from grid stability to optimised real time power procurement. These applications are on the brink of exploding. Data is the new oil, and the smart-grid has plenty of it. This is what will enable more than any one person can forecast.