Technology trends helping transition to net zero
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Technology trends helping transition to net zero

10 June 2021 By The Utilidex Team

Utilidex technology trends

As the whole world focusses on transitioning to a carbon net zero world, we take a look at some of the technology trends that might help support your company’s carbon journey.

The good news is, there are a range of technologies advancing at pace alongside the evolving energy landscape to help you along the way. If you love technology – you couldn’t find a better time to combine innovation with tackling climate change.

1. Cloud technology, access your data at anytime, anywhere.

Most, if not all companies will now have adopted cloud technology in some form or another. The pandemic and need to work from home have seen a significant uptake in this area with many companies now happy to share and store data on the cloud. The pace of innovation from major cloud vendors like Microsoft, AWS and Google not only provide incredible compute power but also new tool sets and applications which are being rolled out at a phenomenal rate.

Microsoft’s mission statement is “to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more” and as a customer you now have access to significant compute power (to crunch through all your data), a set of very powerful tools (whether its Machine Learning, IoT, Big Data, AI) and all at an ever increasingly lower cost which would not have been possible even a short while ago.

As you plan out your journey to carbon net zero and your data demand increases, being with cloud vendors that take advantage of this new technology will deliver significant opportunities for your organisation going forward.

2. API’s to allow your systems to connect.

As more applications and devices become connected via the cloud, it also makes it easier for systems to talk to one another. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) is the term used to explain this protocol. Data APIs let computers share data e.g. my EV charging point can share data with my energy management platform, and Application APIs allow you to directly access the features of an application e.g. I wish to turn on my EV charging at a certain point.

Your carbon net zero strategy will likely require you to pull information from several different sources which you may wish to easily share between your cloud platforms. Being able to share a weekly energy report via your Microsoft Teams channel, or a report that combines data from your different commodities which all sits in different systems, is now possible.

Working with a software vendor who is cloud enabled and provides access to APIs makes this whole process much easier. A great example is Carbon Intensity which can connect to an API to see when the most carbon intensive time is on the grid, and maybe even switch your energy on or off accordingly (learn more about this in point 5).

3. Machine Learning for demand and price predictions.

Energy spot prices continue to fluctuate on the grid. In the last 12 months they have been as high as £4000 per half hour and as a low as -£70 (yes that’s right you can be paid to use energy). The business case for turning your energy on or off at certain times is becoming increasingly more advantageous.

As more data sets become available coupled with powerful Machine Learning tools, you now have access to lower cost tools which can predict short term prices (within the next 24 hours) as well as short term consumption (what you plan to use and/or generate).

Whilst the domain expertise to know what data to use and how to program the models is still an evolving process, the tools that you can use are becoming increasingly easier. We are even beginning to move towards “forecasting as a service” with companies like AWS now launching their own forecasting service for time series data (like metering) which is available here - 

4. Algorithms, automation and event based systems.

It took the corporate world a while to catch onto Apple’s user centred design. Consumer products outpaced business products in “look and feel” and “useability”, however we have now caught up and quickly realised that we also want the computers to do the heavy lifting for us.

Rather than thinking about UI’s, we are now starting to think about the world in terms of events, algorithms and actions. For example, when a price hits a certain amount ‘the event’, a check is performed as to whether the battery can be turned off ‘the algorithm’, if yes then the battery is turned off ‘the action’. We are moving to a world where we are programming our systems to intelligently take care of certain activities for us based on rules and formulas. When you start to think about the world like this, you can start to think of many scenarios where this can be useful.

The carbon net zero journey will likely see companies invest in EVs, batteries and on-site generation, all creating on-site optionality to turn on or off, and luckily these will start to be joined up to make the management of these assets much easier. Tesla’s Autobidder product is another great example of this.

5. IFTTT Platforms to help you control devices.

Linked to APIs and algorithms are IFTTT (If this then that) platforms which help you control devices with an ‘If this then that’ statement. This might sound complicated but in truth it’s not. A good example on the consumer side is Octopus’s Agile Tariff which can control devices based on price events in the energy market.

Major cloud vendors like Microsoft, Amazon, Google and others are all developing their own IFTTT type platforms which allow you to integrate with a whole host of applications and devices and then perform a series of actions.  

At Utilidex we feel really excited by the opportunity ahead. The combination of new technologies experiencing rapid innovation along with helping organisations tackle climate change allows for an exciting time to be in energy and software.

If you would like to learn more about how we are leveraging these technologies to support our customers in their carbon net zero journey, further information can be found in the YPO Utilities framework. Or, please get in touch with the team!

Categories: Energy , Environment , Frameworks

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