Power to the Grid

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FountainBlue’s September 11, 2020 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘Power to the Grid’.

FountainBlue’s September 11, 2020 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘Power to the Grid’. We were fortunate to have a diverse range of executives in attendance who shared a wide range of perspectives across organizations, across industries, across roles, across teams. Despite the differences, we came to an agreement regarding getting power to the grid.
Today is actually the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, so we started by comparing where we were then and where we are now in terms of how we think about energy usage. 

  • Solar adoption, renewable energy generation and EV usage have gone from a novelty – a long-term vision, to a more standard practice, more in some locations than others.
  • The age of always-on vampire mode is now politically and economically incorrect.
  • Network infrastructure and data storage is now ubiquitous, the cloud commonplace now, with costs within reason for businesses large and small.
  • Similarly, the movement of data is now commonplace, relatively inexpensive and pervasive.
  • Energy storage is much more prevalent for enterprises, with consumers now taking a look at it.

There was much conversation about the challenges related to the management of energy generation, storage and distribution, and also agreement on how we can collaborate to make progress.
Energy Management is Complicated.

  • Our energy infrastructure involves an ecosystem of public-private partnerships.
  • The challenges are many and escalating, caused by: energy usage, climate change, distribution of energy generation/storage, political agendas, the vocal opinions of companies and consumers alike, aging power infrastructure, etc.,
  • The order of magnitude for energy projects is mind-bogglingly HUGE, taking many resources and much time (in the order of decades) to implement. 

Collaboration is key.

  • Policymakers must collaborate with all parties to ensure efficient energy generation, storage and distribution.
  • With energy, IT (including enterprise systems around HR, finance, etc.,) must meet OT – operational systems which physically bring the power to our systems and devices. Collaboration is a mandate, yet often a challenge.
  • Leveraging open source solutions around energy like the LF Energy system, may help build collaborations which are science-based and a-political while also proactively managing our energy consumption and our adoption of renewable energy sources.
  • Partnering with European countries in their use of technologies and processes may help US energy customers better manage their own generation, storage and usage. 
  • Find ways where all stakeholders can provide value and provide services in a way which is economically viable and even attractive.

Security across the grid is of paramount importance.

  • Security is at huge risk with the proliferation of devices attached to the grid from both enterprises and consumers. This is especially true as attacking our source of power puts regions and nations at risk.
  • Utilities may be forced to integrate legacy systems into overall energy management solutions. Keeping these solutions secure may be more challenging and complex.

Innovation is key. Below are some thoughts on how we could innovate.

  • Consider the adoption and integration of micro-services, especially for less populous areas with lower energy demands.
  • Create Software Defined Infrastructures to better manage energy usage, to better support the integration and management of all applications, including legacy applications.
  • Provide detailed real-time reports on energy usage easily accessible by enterprises and consumers. Gamify the solution so that we can make sustainable choices around energy usage.
  • Offer strategies for enterprises and consumers can be independent of the grid either when necessary (for rolling black-outs for example), or for efficiency.
  • There may be opportunities for cities to put power lines underground, and if they do so, perhaps they can set up data sub-stations while they’re at it, for areas which use higher volumes of energy.
  • Consider vehicle-to-grid opportunities around energy generation, storage and distribution.
  • AI and ML algorithms to identify patterns and make predictions around energy usage, so that we can proactively manage.
  • Consider providing aggregated reports of energy usage and renewable energy adoption which enterprises could use across their many global facilities. 
  • Devices on the edge of the grid can help manage and monitor the energy usage, and also help us understand current and anticipated needs based on specific scenarios – usage patterns, temperature readings, population density, industry trends…
  • Create solutions which would allow customers and enterprises to make local input, and global impact while creating jobs as well.

The bottom line is that there are models and predictions around energy usage, even as we are impacted by climate change. Rising above the political and economic agendas, we can come together and create solutions and forge policies which would be good for businesses, for customers, for the Earth.


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