Eastwick’s Going to Distributech 2015: Three Topics We’ll be Tracking at the Annual Conference

By: Stephanie Kays

President Obama’s State of the Union last week threw down the metaphorical cleantech hammer when he noted that no challenge “poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.” It’s no longer acceptable to let time pass us by and keep living in a world that’s not coming to grips with the reality we live in today — one in which we have to take aggressive action to address climate change.

Starting on February 2, this topic will be top of mind for the world’s energy leaders at the largest North American event that covers the utility industry from end-to-end with 10,000 attendees and more than 480 exhibitors: DISTRIBUTECH. Everyone from utility executives, to government officials, to technology developers and renewable (even nuclear!) advocates will be side by side for this annual event, hosted by publishing house PennWell.

In addition to hearing from some of the industry’s top minds, including U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Dr. Ernest Moniz and Dr. Michio Kaku, I’m personally looking forward to chatting at the conference with reporters, vendors and utility managers, and hearing their thoughts on the biggest cleantech topics in the news today, including:

Storage Goes Primetime

Incorporating renewables is one issue that every utility is being faced with in 2015, but it’s easier said than done — especially since that directive comes with the dilemma of just how to handle and store all that beautiful energy. Just this past fall, The New York Times reported,

“to meet global climate change commitments, the International Energy Agency called on the United States, the European Union, China and India to invest a combined $380 billion in energy storage by the middle of the century. That would fund a total of 310 gigawatts of new projects, or more than 28 times what is currently expected to be built by the end of the decade.”

The issue of safe, reliable and easily obtainable energy will be a huge topic at DISTRIBUTECH this year.

The Internet of Things Meets Demand Response

Demand response — a service where utilities pay companies and consumers to turn down lights and air conditioners to stave off peak power emergencies — has long been identified as one of the most important technologies for curbing emissions and reducing the cost of power. But it’s also only been deployed in certain areas to select customers. Why the mismatch? The cost of wiring up homes and businesses can outweigh the benefits, or at least slow down the process. The Internet of Things (IoT) changes the dynamic. With intelligent devices, end-users can install their own devices, saving utilities the cost of sending out trucks.

Dave Friedman, CEO of Ayla Networks, and Amit Narayan, CEO of AutoGrid Systems, will participate in a panel on Thursday, February 5 on the future of demand response and intelligent devices. Greentech Media’s Jeff St. John will moderate. Other companies with growing portfolios of demand response ideas include REGEN Energy, Ventyx, EcoFactor and Schneider Electric.

Communication is King

As in every part of our digital revolution, the utility industry is being held to an all day, everyday communication standard, which means exciting new technology for everyone from linemen, to command central operators to consumers. Navigant Research announced last year that,

“For the power sector to realize the full benefits of the smart grid revolution, advanced networking and communications technology must span the entire power grid.”

According to its report on the topic, the annual utility spending on SGaaS technology will grow from $1.7 billion in 2014 to $11.2 billion in 2023 — totaling $57.6 billion over that period.

Companies that offer utilities new and exciting (but also easily integrated) communication tools will be embraced in the years to come and it’ll be exciting to see what this year has in store in this area.

These topics alone are pretty fascinating and prove that it’s an exciting time for energy. If you’re planning to attend, interact with us on Twitter (#DTECH2015) and reach us at: @sgkays or @mikekanellos

Originally published at www.eastwick.com on January 27, 2015.