Nav Search
Energy & Sustainability

The Cleantech Trends that Will Shape the Utility Market

Up next for cleantech? A trend toward smart meters and the data they provide. (Image courtesy of Portland General Electric / Flickr)

Up next for cleantech? A trend toward smart meters and the data they provide. (Image courtesy of Portland General Electric / Flickr)

Many sectors are getting “smarter” these days, and clean technology is no exception. In time for the Distributech conference this year, GigaOm reports that this year’s cleantech development experts will be focused on data, smart-meter deployment and demand responses. We took a look at some of the predictions around the web on what might influence the utility marketplace in the upcoming years.

Utilities will experience competition from data and smart grid technology:  According to Greentech Media, big data holds the potential to radically innovate energy industries. They note, “data will make the integration of renewables in utility offerings more attractive, but could also help change the utility industry dramatically.”

Discrepancies in government-funded solar power initiatives will have a large effect: Navigant Research published a white paper on utilities trends in 2014, and one of the major findings determined that the impact of solar power generation initiatives on distribution grids will be sizeable. They refer to the fact that some governments have “aggressively supported residential solar generation”, while others have not made it a priority. Government support will lead to shifting business models and an acceleration of investments for solar power, in those cases where a focus has been placed on smart grids. As a result, emphasis on utilities may decline.

Utilities will face commercial competition from generation alternatives: GigaOm reports that Toshiba will soon roll out a large-scale solar investment in Germany’s apartment building market.  The company will “have none of the transmission and distribution costs that the utility has to deal with.”  Utility prices may be incentivized to decrease, when facing pressure from commercial solar investments like this.

From generation to storage to analytics, the cleantech business model is inarguably changing. Rising consumer support for renewable energy and energy innovation will foster business development within the area. Within the coming years, startups will likely see opportunities to help make energy grids smarter than they are currently.

Liz Elfman

Liz Elfman is a writer, editor, and content strategist.