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4 New Business Models For The Utilities Industry

James McClelland

The digital energy network is revolutionizing the utilities industry. New business models are emerging to meet the changing demands of the energy market. We can divide these business models into four groups that we’ll discuss in more detail below.

Prosumer partnerships

Consumers today are more invested in where their energy comes from. They want affordable power generation that sustains the environment, so it’s not surprising that the consumption of renewable energy is rising. According to Enerdata, since 2003, renewable energy consumption has increased throughout most regions in the world since 2003.

Since fossil fuels are becoming scarcer, this trend will continue. Established energy producers will need to diversify their products to include renewables and provide equipment for consumers to generate their own energy.

And that means there will be a growing number of prosumers, consumers who generate their own power with wind turbines and solar panels. But what happens when they generate more power than they consume? Simple: They can sell it back to the energy producers. Prosumers will likely become an important part of the utilities industry.

Advanced power storage facilities

The smart grid is an integral part of the digital energy network. It’s dubbed “smart” because it records and analyzes data to track and control the flow of energy, and balances the input and output of power according to demand. Most important, it stores excess energy for later use.

To do this, it makes use of advanced power storage facilities that can stockpile huge amounts of energy. Some of these facilities are former power plants, while others are new construction. They’re equipped with advanced systems that connect to the smart grid, which allows them to balance energy loads, shift demand, and increase reliability.

Digital control systems companies

The smart grid needs software systems to control the flow and balance of energy, and a growing number of software companies are developing programs that do just that. Because of the wide variety of energy sources, such as established power generators and new prosumers; and of power consumers, including industries, smart cities and infrastructures, and power storage facilities, there is no “one-size-fits-all” software solution.

It’s easy to see how a software system that regulates power usage in a city won’t work in a storage facility. That’s why software companies are developing a wide range of effective yet adaptable digital control systems. They’re partnering with established power companies and governments to apply these systems. Over time, the systems will need to be adapted and fine-tuned according to other industry changes.

Cybersecurity companies

The world’s economy is completely digitalized. Power outages are inconvenient for home consumers, expensive for businesses, and for potentially catastrophic to stock exchanges. Our dependence on the digital power network makes it a prime target for cyber attacks. It’s one thing to deal with storm-related power outages; it’s another matter entirely when cybercriminals send viruses into the network and wreak havoc.

The digital power network needs to be as robust and resilient as possible. That’s why specialized cyber security firms will play a large role moving forward.

Conclusion

The digital energy network offers significant sustainable business opportunities, but it’s also vulnerable. The utilities industry must keep innovating to be both effective and resilient.

Learn more about digital transformation at Utilities. Reimagined for the new economy.


This blog was origianally posted on the Digitalistmag on May 10 2016

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