The past few years have exploded the once-popular idea that the utility industry is sleepy and slow moving. Indeed, a combination of factors has transformed the energy sector in which utilities operate into one of the most innovative and dynamic in the entire global economy. As is so often the case, technological advances and market developments have played an outsized role in driving this rapid change.
For instance, massive scale and improvements in technology have helped drive down the cost of solar energy so much that it has rapidly made the jump from an expensive niche industry squarely into the mainstream. Electric vehicles (EVs) and battery storage are both following a similar path, driven in part by regulatory activity and environmental goals in states from California to New York and Massachusetts.
Underlying all of this ferment, change and innovation is the customer. “Customers’ needs are changing,” said Carlos Nouel, the vice president of National Grid’s New Energy Solutions team, a division of the utility whose mission is to develop and launch innovative solutions and technologies that deliver value to customers. “They may want to connect their electric vehicle or install solar panels on their roof or maybe they just want to have more data so they can make better decisions around energy.”