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How Utilities Can Avoid Complacency and Boost Customer Satisfaction

Steve Ballmer’s first reaction to the Apple iPhone was not his best moment.

During a TV appearance in 2007, the then-Microsoft CEO and current owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, mocked the market potential of the iPhone. With a $500 price tag and no keyboard, the executive felt comfortable saying that Apple’s latest whiz-bang invention was more sizzle than substance.

We all know how that turned out. David Rowan, editor-at-large of Wired U.K., brought up that example at a conference about energy efficiency and the future utility model last year to warn against the perils of ignoring even the oddest-seeming innovation. “Crazy stuff is happening — mining asteroids, 3-D printing of cars, interacting with machines via virtual reality goggles,” Rowan told the audience at the CLEAResult Energy Forum in Austin, Texas. “How do you stay on top of all these changes? How do you change the way your organization thinks? You need an innovation culture.”

Rowan’s call for those working in the utility industry and the broader energy sector to be nimble and innovative is one of the nuggets included in the recently released report, Innovation Outlook: The 2017 State of Energy Efficiency. Geared primarily toward an audience of utility workers, the report’s findings are culled from conversations and speeches about topics ranging from electric vehicles and demand response to energy efficiency and distributed generation, all of which took place at the 2016 conference in Austin. The event and the report were spearheaded by CLEAResult, a consultancy that provides energy-efficiency guidance to utilities and others in the energy sector.

The need for the utility industry to evolve and embrace innovation is only accelerating. “I’ve been in the utility industry, the demand-side management industry for 10 years now,” said Colin Gibbs, CLEAResult’s director of business analytics and author of the report. “Ninety percent of the change has happened in the last 18 months. It has been rapid.”

More here.


Hydrogen + Fuel Cells NORTH AMERICA at SPI 2017, Las Vegas

SOLARPOWER International (SPI 2017)
September 10-13, 2017
Mandalay Bay Convention Center
Las Vegas, NV, USA

Connecting the solar industry with hydrogen technologies

  • Market leaders like ITM Power and Nel Hydrogen present the storage of renewable energy through electrolysis
  • Air Liquide and WEH Industries inform about hydrogen refueling
  • Confirmed registrations of 30 exhibitors, 70% sold floor space

One of the major topics of Hydrogen + Fuel Cells NORTH AMERICA will be the storage of renewable energies. Wind and solar energy can be stored through the production of hydrogen via water electrolysis. Electrolyser companies like ITM Power, Nel Hydrogen, Secure Supply and Giner inform about their latest developments.

Building up a hydrogen infrastructure

Air Liquide informs about the expansion of their hydrogen refueling station network in the US, allowing the use of hydrogen as a clean source for zeroemission fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). The fueling nozzles will be presented by the market leader WEH Technologies.

Hydrogen compressed

PDC Machines presents SimpleFuelTM, a fully integrated hydrogen generation, compression, storage and dispensing appliance capable of delivering up to 5 kg/day of hydrogen to vehicles at pressures up to 700 bar. Several hydrogen compressor companies like Haskel, RIX Industries, Andreas Hofer and HydroPac will exhibit.

Hexagon Composites show high-pressure vessels to store natural gas and hydrogen for the use in mobile and stationary applications.

Components for fuel cells

A fuel cell is a device that combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, heat and water. Exhibitors like Aperam, borit, Graebener and Impact Coatings will inform about bipolar plates, which are main components of fuel cells.

Learn more in our forum

Exhibitors and leading industry experts will feature a comprehensive forum program, including company presentations and discussions. The connection between the hydrogen technology and solar industry will be explained daily by using an education exhibit.

Information about the fair

The topics of H2+FC NORTH AMERICA will include hydrogen generation, storage and transportation, fuel cell systems and applications, stationary-, automotive-, mobile fuel cells, special markets, components and supplying technology, fuel cell and battery testing. SPI 2017 is expecting 650 exhibitors and 18,000 visitors from across the solar industry and adjacent industry sectors. The Energy Storage International (ESI), with more than 115 exhibitors the largest energy storage event in North America, will be co-located with the SPI as well.

For more information on H2+FC NORTH AMERICA at SPI 2017, please visit www.h2fc-fair.com/usa

Tesla looks to energy storage aggregation

Tesla has taken its next step into the energy storage market with a project to aggregate energy storage to provide services to the grid.

The project is being launched with Vermont utility Green Mountain Power, and will aggregate utility scale and residential storage into a single resource. The aim is to enable more renewable energy and increase grid efficiency.

The project will utilise Tesla’s Powerpack and Powerwall batteries and its GridLogic software platform.

It is innovative on several fronts. One of these is the aggregation potential. The second is that participating homeowners are effectively supporting the utility in its storage goals, and are able to purchase the storage batteries for only $15/month or a $1,300 one-time payment – a substantial discount on Tesla’s standard $6,200 price.

More here.


FutureTech Congress: international meeting of insurtech, fintech and big data to be held this May in Warsaw

FutureTech Congress is one of the most important business summits in Central and Eastern Europe addressing top trends in the fintech, insurtech and big data industries. The first edition of the congress will be held on 24th and 25th of May in Warsaw. During two days of debates experts from all over the world will discuss how digitalization, technology and business innovations are changing the financial services, insurance and data industry, in effect impacting the overall business landscape in Poland and the region. The event will gather a line-up of international thought leaders, industry experts and practitioners such as Stephen Brobst – Chief Technology Officer, Teradata Corporation; Chris Skinner – Writer, Fintech Commentator, Chair of the Financial Services Club; Lars Christensen – Founder and owner of Markets and Money Advisory; Giovanni Butarelli – Supervisor of the European Data Protection Board.

FutureTech Congress is designed to foster growth and development of the Polish and regional business landscape and fuel its innovativeness. The idea of the congress is based on previous experience of MMC Poland, long time organizer of BIG DATA: Think Big CEE Congress and FinTech Digital Congress business conferences. The key goal of the event is to create a dedicated platform for meetings and thought-sharing between mature companies, startups, entrepreneurs, investors and public sector decision makers.

During the FutureTech Congress our goal is to illustrate how our society and the broadly defined business sector is impacted by the on-going digital transformation. Technology is transforming the way how enterprises are addressing customer needs, building efficiencies and delivering both market and shareholder value. When shaping the agenda we are making it interdisciplinary and forward looking, so that it best provides an accurate perspective on the direction in which the business world is heading in response to both fintech, insurtech and big-data trends, said Marcin Petrykowski, Regional Head and Managing Director at S&P Global and a member of the Advisory Board for the FutureTech Congress.
FutureTech Congress is divided into three streams: FinTech Digital Congress (financial technologies), InsurTech Digital Congress (insurance technologies) and BIG DATA: Think Big CEE Congress (management of large data).

FinTech Digital Congress is dedicated to the impact that new technologies in finance create both for banks, financial institutions and all other market participants. FinTech will encompass discussions on the rapid digitalization of finance, e-commerce payments, digital identity, development of cryptocurrencies and partnerships between new and traditional players.

InsurTech Digital Congress is dedicated to modern trends in the insurance sector. During the discussions Speakers will present such sector revolutionary solutions as block-chain, telematics or biometry. Experts will also review new customer needs, the changing industry landscape, disruptive business solutions and practical examples of new technology deployment.

BIG DATA: Think Big CEE Congress will focus on modern applications of large data. The four program blocks of BIG DATA are dedicated to A.I. in business, customer relations in the retail sector, challenges of the new EU data protection law and implementations of innovative big data solutions.

Among the Speakers of FutureTech Congress the organizer supported by the Advisory Board have gathered the most influential experts from the insurtech, fintech and big data industries, such as:

• Zbigniew Jagiełło, CEO, PKO BP
• Cezary Stypułkowski, CEO, mBank
• Chris Skinner, Writer, Fintech Commentator, Chair of the Financial Services Club
• Guillaume de Colonges, CEO and General Director, Carrefour Poland
• Hesus Inoma, Founder & CEO WeSavvy
• James Felton Keith, Chairman, International Personal Data Trade Association
• Delber Lage, CEO, SalaryFits
• Evita Lune, Global Partner, Country Manager for Latvia and Head of Digital Economy, Pedersen & Partners
• Lars Christensen, Founder and owner of Markets and Money Advisory
• Fabienne Ostermeyer, International Development Director at Visiomed Group

The full agenda of the event is available at: www.ftcongress.com

During the FutureTech Congress a special evening event will be held – the FutureTech Night. In a less formal environment, this event will gather representatives of financial sector, startups, disruptor companies that challenge the standard business models, private equity investors, capital market, and technology enthusiasts from key sectors of the Polish economy. The evening event will feature announcement of the FutureTech Awards.
The congress is a project of MMC Poland, a long-standing organizer of relevant and impactful conferences, workshops and business trainings in Poland dedicated to specialists, managers and top management.

All current information on FutureTech can be found on the official website: www.ftcongress.com and dedicated profiles on:

Successful market introduction of Hydrogen + Fuel Cells NORTH AMERICA

The organizer of the Group Exhibit Hydrogen + Fuel Cells + Batteries at HANNOVER MESSE continue their successful work in the US. Five months before the US premiere more than 50% of the floorspace is already booked.

Several electrolyser, hydrogen compressor and fuel cell exhibitors have already registered. The event is also supported by major North American H2+FC associations like the California Hydrogen Business Council and the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association.

Steve Jones, Managing Director, ITM Power Inc., Irvine, CA, USA: “We are excited to be part of the hydrogen and fuel cells exhibit at SOLARPOWER International 2017. The huge growth in the US solar industry is driving change in the electricity grid and forcing operators to deploy energy storage in order to maintain grid reliability. Hydrogen energy storage allows the grid to store vast amounts of energy whilst simultaneously providing a pathway to create fuel for the growing number of hydrogen vehicles on the road in areas like California.”

Bjørn Simonsen, VP Market Development & PR, Nel Hydrogen, Oslo, Norway: “Hydrogen production from PV solar power makes a lot of sense. In fact, most of the large-scale hydrogen production concepts we are currently looking into are based on solar energy, many of them also off-grid.”

SPI 2017 is expecting 700 exhibitors and 20,000 visitors from across the solar industry and adjacent industry sectors. The Energy Storage International (ESI), with more than 115 exhibitors the largest energy storage event in North America, will be co-located with the SPI as well.

“There are so many synergy effects between the hydrogen & fuel cell, the solar and energy storage industry. The positive feedback from the industry proves that it was the right time to establish a yearly commercial H2+FC trade fair in the US”, Tobias Renz, organizer of H2+FC NORTH AMERICA.

Exhibitors and leading industry experts will feature a comprehensive forum program, including company presentations and discussions.

The topics of H2+FC NORTH AMERICA will include hydrogen generation, storage and transportation, fuel cell systems and applications, stationary-, automotive-, mobile fuel cells, special markets, components and supplying technology, fuel cell and battery testing.

For more information on H2+FC NORTH AMERICA at SPI 2017, please visit www.h2fc-fair.com/usa

The world’s leading critical communications congress and exhibition heads to Hong Kong

Critical Communications World (May 16-18, Hong Kong) is the leading and most influential congress and exhibition dedicated to connecting critical communications professionals for three days of thought provoking discussion, debate and networking.

Hosting this year’s 19th Annual event in Hong Kong provides the perfect setting, with this year’s theme focused on network optimization and transition. With many areas in Asia and indeed across the rest of world looking to get the most of their current networks as well as understanding how they can smoothly transition to networks offering more functions, this year’s conference will attract senior thought leaders from all major projects to share their experiences and insight to meet the demands of the modern end user.

Critical Communications World will also provide free content for visitors on the show floor, featuring two high level seminar programmes and zones dedicated to Future technologies and Data apps & control rooms providing you with the opportunity to hear from end users and leading solution providers alike on the latest technology application case studies.

Phil Kidner, The Tetra and Critical Communications Association (TCCA) CEO said: “I am delighted that CCW is returning to Hong Kong. Both personally and professionally I regard Hong Kong as a great city. I have already had the pleasure of meeting with the representatives of many of the critical communications networks. Their enthusiasm for this event is infectious. I am certain that they will help us make it the best CCW ever!

Hong Kong is a hub for Asia and beyond, so I expect to see the widest variety of delegates with whom you will have numerous networking opportunities to learn from their experiences – those that currently use analogue networks, those that use TETRA and other standard PMR networks and those that are looking for broadband solutions.

This is not just an Asian event. It is a global event. As well as Asia, we will hear from speakers from the Middle East, Europe, Africa and the Americas and have the opportunity to visit an extensive exhibition of the latest critical communications equipment and applications from around the world.”

Critical Communications World 2017 is presented by TCCA, in partnership with KNect365. This year’s major sponsors include Airbus, Huawei, Leonardo, and Motorola Solutions (Gold Sponsors) and Cobham, General Dynamics and Nokia (Silver Sponsors).

For more information and to register, please visit: https://tmt.knect365.com/critical-communications-world

Whisker Labs Sensor Widens IoT Energy Management Possibilities

With all the focus on devices that are connected to the network, newcomer Whisker Labs believes there is another even more ubiquitous interconnectivity that can be the key to opening up the Internet of Things (IoT) connected home for integrators: the electrical network. Indeed, while only 15 percent of electronic devices in a home are connected to the Internet, every device is connected to the electrical grid, according to Robert Marshall, CEO. And because of that power connection, Whisker Labs can measure it, and integrators can monitor and control it with a simple low-voltage sensor installation. It’s a possible gamechanger in that it opens up the possibilities of energy management and control for every appliance and electrical gadget in the home.

Sure, current transformer (CT) clamps have existed for many years to measure current. These CT clamps measure current flow through a cable, but they require a line-voltage contractor’s license. Even then, the proximity to wedge them around electrical lines near the breaker box made for a cumbersome installation. And the clamps were required to be placed on individual circuits to help identify the power draw from individual appliances, fixtures, consumer electronics, etc.

“Most electricians won’t do it,” says Marshall of the Oakland, Calif.-based company.

Whisker Labs Low-Voltage Solution

Whisker Labs, which is part of parent company Earth Networks, has bypassed the need for a CT clamp and an electrical license. A small sensor is attached solely to the main breaker on the electrical panel. The sensor is tracking 20,000 samples of electrical usage per second. That level of detail allows the sensor to “disaggregate” devices via their unique electrical signatures. As comparison, Marshall says smart utility meters can only track one sample per second.

“Anything that requires electricity can be identified and measured and eventually controlled. Every device has its own electrical fingerprint. Everything is connected to the home electrical grid,” says Marshall. “We collect data from any device we can get our hands on.”

The sensor is tethered to a small hub that communicates via Wi-Fi to the cloud. From there, Whisker Labs runs the electrical signatures through analytics to identify every individual device on the power grid. The company has written special software to do the disaggregation. Currently, the software is written to track large appliances and HVAC systems.

The software does not just monitor electrical usage, but also can identify faults and diagnose problems with the equipment, offering a specific message that pinpoints the problem. In essence, it is a remote monitoring system for every electrical device in the home. For example, a notification that identifies is a curling iron has been left plugged in, or a notification that the coolant in the refrigerator compressor is low, or the air conditioning filter is clogged.

According to Marshall, their data so far is revealing that the installation of solar panels in a home is a major impetus for the homeowner to want to track his electrical usage at a more granular level.

“Energy is the focus,” he says. “Energy savings and management are the means to an end to deliver value to the homeowner.”

More here.

3 Examples of How Demand Response Is Morphing as a Grid Resource

As utilities and grid operators face new flexibility challenges, demand response is more important than ever. Applications for demand-side resources are evolving as a result.

There are a handful of themes emerging from the industry worth exploring: a strong focus on customer engagement; a growing array of demand response resources; an increased focus on non-wires alternatives to infrastructure; and the slow progress when turning pilots into commercial programs.

A community of thought leaders, utilities, consultants and vendors in demand response came together last week at the Peak Load Management Alliance conference last week to talk through some of those themes. Below, we offer some insight into how different players are grappling with them.

Success through customer engagement

Utilities have traditionally designed programs based on available technology, but customers are demanding more focus on solutions. Utilities attending the PLMA conference emphasized that customer engagement is critical for successful program deployment, with a big push on marketing for customer acquisition and retention.

PowerHours, a bring-your-own-thermostat program developed by AEP Public Service of Oklahoma (PSO), is an example of the evolution from pilot to program.

More here.

Invitation to attend ACI’s Digital Utilities Europe 2017

Building on the success of the inaugural May 2016 edition which brought over 100 senior level attendees to London, ACI’s Digital Utilities Europe 2017 taking place on 10th – 11th May in London, UK will gather key industry stakeholders to address the current challenges of the digitisation in the utility sector. The two day event will give you insights on business cases, financial aspects and technological advancements which affect utility companies now and will do so in the future.

Topics will cover Building Digital Utility & Digital Transformation, Development of Digital Business Models, New and Changing Markets of Energy Retail, Data-Driven Utility Consumer Engagement in Digital Communities, Leveraging Digital Platforms to Promote Digital Revolutions in Utilities, Smart Grid Developments in Europe, Consumer Trends in the Age of Mass Disruption, Energy Efficiency in Smart Homes, Latest Technological Innovations, Big Data and Smart Energy Analytics, Cyber Security: Safety and Stability of the Grids and much more.

Who Will Attend? The event is designed with special interest to CIO’s, CTO’s, CDO’s and Heads of Digital Innovation, IT, solutions and new technologies of Power generation, transmission, distribution & supply companies, utilities, electricity retailers TNOs/TSOs & DNOs/DSOs, Water & gas utilities companies, Communications providers, data processing, analytics, services providers & consultants.

WSN Buzz readers/subscribers are entitled to a 15% registration discount. For further information, agenda request or to register your attendance contact Dimitri Pavlyk on + 44 (0)203 141 0627 or dpavlyk@acieu.net quoting EDUE2D15.


Too Much Competition In The Smart Meter Industry?

Both Itron (NASDAQ:ITRI) and Silver Spring Networks (NYSE:SSNI) have struggled to show consistent revenue growth and profitability. There are too many companies worldwide competing in a slow growing business in the highly regulated industries such as electric, water and gas. As smart meter companies have struggled to grow, they have tried to diversify into broader Internet-of-Things applications like managing street light in Smart City initiatives. But these initiatives are yet to prove that they will spur significant growth. Consolidation may be an option to drive down cost, increase scale and grow revenue.

Water, electricity and gas are essential to life. One would think given the increased environmental awareness and increasing demand due to population growth would lead to rapid adoption of smart meters that help monitor and inform use of resources and help drive conservation and new consumption models. Yet, smart meter adoption in the U.S. has either stalled or is growing very slowly and adoption in countries with vast populations, such as India, has been extremely slow. According to Silver Spring Networks, a little over half of the 150 million end-points in the U.S are managed by Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI).

Theft of electricity and the subsequent loss in revenue is a problem in India and smart meters could help reduce theft. Yet, India has been very slow to adopt smart meters. The Indian Government plans to install 50 million smart meters by 2020. Considering that India has potential for approximately 250 million smart meter end-points, that’s a 20% market penetration over five years. Silver Spring Networks announced that CESC of India will use its smart meters and AMI infrastructure for 237,000 homes. There is also local competition in India from companies such as Larsen & Toubro.

China, which has the largest installation of smart meters in the world with 150 million units installed by 2015, has sourced smart meters from local manufacturers. That has left companies like Sensus, Itron and Silver Spring Networks with little or no business from China. In China, companies like Yantai Dongfang Wisdom Electric Co., Ltd., Wasion Group and Shenzhen Kaifa Technology have dominated the market.

More here.


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