Member States of the European Union have agreed on targets aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by cutting energy consumption by 20% and increasing the share of renewables in the energy mix to 20% by 2020. The ‘Europe’s Energy’ project gives users a set of visual tools to put these targets into context and to understand and compare how progress is being made towards them in different countries.
The survey asked 106 utility executives – the people that arguably know more about the energy supply and demand challenges our nation faces than anyone else – a range of questions on the smart grid, energy efficiency and related topics and issues.
We issued a press release today with some of the highlights, but to help put this week’s news into context, we also wanted to share a full breakdown of the results. Nothing earth shattering, but worth keeping in mind as the week progresses…
The annual smart grid event Distributech kicked off in San Diego Tuesday morning and — as expected — unleashed a whole series of news from smart grid-focused firms. From new home energy management products, to plug-in car software, to distribution automation gear, this is a list of trends and news from the show.
US venture capital (VC) investment in cleantech companies increased by 8% to $3.98 billion in 2010 from $3.7 billion in 2009 and deal total increased by 7% to 278, according to an Ernst & Young LLP analysis based on data from Dow Jones VentureSource. VC investment in cleantech in Q4 2010 reached $979 million with 72 financing rounds. VC investment in cleantech in Q4 2010 reached $979 million with 72 financing rounds, flat in terms of deals and down 14% in terms of capital invested compared to Q4 2009…
We had a really solid briefing with Convergys today. The firm sells software and services to telcos and utilities for customer care and billing – it has 80k employees worldwide, 550+ clients, and $3bn in revenue.
According to Greenmonk research most utilities are failing to understand the the need to put the customer right at the center of their Smart Grid strategies. I pushed Kit Hagen, senior director of marketing, on the issue and he came back with a strong response.
“We often see utilities refer to IT as “the meter to cash process”- there is no customer in that. They’re calling the customer a meter.
Now you’re not going to just have disaggregated generation, but potentially a bunch of devices sitting behind the meter itself, and utilities should want to understand whats going on there. The world doesn’t end at the smart meter: think of kitchen appliances, for example.
This is an area the utilities need to start addressing. We can enable the technology, we can help the utilities…”
Electricity microgeneration, supported, for example, by feedin tariffs. How would a utility handle that from a billing perspective, send out two bills – one for consumption and one for production?
Kit’s colleague Mary Tillman, director of product marketing, offered up a near perfect analogy for the kinds of challenge we’ll need to fix – mobile phones and SIM cards.
“Think of roaming. We need the same model for electric vehicles. How is someone that travels from London to Edinburgh in their EV going to be billed for recharging?”
Great analogy Mary – and that’s just within the UK… what about Pan-European requirements? For context – in case you have missed it, it turns out that EVs are one of the promising distributed storage mechanisms- the car battery becomes part of a “virtual utility”, as per Better Place. We’re going to need the equivalent of GSM, and SIM card standards to support smart grid ecosystems of networked devices.
Not to put too fine a point on it – wireless communications companies are rather more used to this kind of model than traditional utilities, which could prove to be a competitive advantage. The role of the traditional utility billing engine fundamentally changes in smart grids – its definitely time to start refactoring these systems. T-Mobile is already driving a SIM to smart grid integration strategy.
Top down, customer takes what we give them just won’t work in smart grids. Roaming puts the customer first, and “number portability” will have to be part of the model. As we have been saying lately – smart grids and wireless networking are converging.
disclosure: Convergys is not a client.
I heard the breaking news on RTE this morning that the EU upheld the decision that Microsoft abused its dominant position to “freeze out rivals in server and software products”.
At the end of the audio report, RTE’s Europe correspondant Sean Whelan added that Microsoft may appeal this decision.
What is amazing to me about this is that the original finding against Microsoft came in 2004. After a five year investigation. So, we have Microsoft abusing its position to crush rivals, a five year investigation resulting in a decision against Microsoft, an appeal, three years later the decision against Microsoft re-affirmed and now the chance of another appeal?
I’m far from familiar with all the ins and outs of this process but eight years after the investigation started, with two decisions against them, they may appeal again? How much longer is this process going to take to reach a conclusion?
I wouldn’t like to be one of the affected companies looking for justice.