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No More Utility Pilots

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It was some 20 years ago when I was first presented the ‘connected future’ vision, in which the home refrigerator would keep track of all items inside, and place orders to nearby grocery store accordingly. Then 10 years later I saw the first pilot implementation. Still today there is not a single manufacturer with a ‘connected fridge’ product line, although embedded mobile devices and telecom networks have evolved immensely since.

The Smart Grid arena is currently littered with all sorts of small scale pilots, ranging from a single household to a few thousand energy consumption points. Pilots come and go, while the mainstream energy business remains archaic and resource inefficient.

I postulate that in any western country, the total power consumption could be cut by 30% while continuing economic growth and thus the standard of living. This would, though, require real transformation of the energy industry instead of flirting with nature conservation groups and a few individuals with insignificant pilots.

Many utilities have concluded that larger profits are projected in generation instead of transmission and delivery of energy. This very much resembles the telecom meltdown of 2000-2001, when all operators were investing in their backbone networks, resulting some 5-10x global overcapacity and a series of mega bankruptcies. Forecasts for the required capacity forgot one crucial thing – the end user.

A tomorrow’s sustainable utility will now forget about pilots and deliver new services and information to the full customer base, one firm step at a time. This will not only be profitable, but also prudent risk management.

//Pasi

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