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This post was written by Ashiss Kumar Dash, Infosys Global Head of Utilities, Utilities, Resources and Energy Industries.
Energy and utilities companies have had a somewhat delayed entry into the digital world, relative to their peers in other industries such as retail or even banking. But now the dual trend of energy transition and decentralization is creating a new paradigm in energy management, generation and consumption that is overwhelmingly digital. As part of the energy transition, the electric utility industry is making massive investments to improve the grid and make it smarter to achieve three purposes to support a variety of fluctuating renewables, democratize generation, and manage the two-way flow of energy.
Energy companies also have to switch to a decentralized system, producing energy closer to where it is consumed rather than a central location. And this must be safe, predictable and reliable.
These challenges, be it decentralization, building microgrids, or predicting supply and demand dynamics, can be greatly impacted with digital solutions. After decades of being in a commodified business, utilities have the opportunity to differentiate themselves, not through their power or electricity supply, but through the digital experience, which influences everything from how much customers pay. from energy to how they experience these services. Data is an integral part of this opportunity; for example, utilities need to know who is producing decentralized energy, how much is available for distribution, and compare it to increases and falls in demand. Data trends can help pinpoint the answers.
But how can energy companies, which are not completely digitally transformed, be expected to compete on technology? To help them on this journey, digital service companies are taking on the role of digital power orchestrators, providing AI and analytics-based solutions to stabilize networks, predict power supply from fluctuating sources, and improve the overall customer experience. Digital platforms are also accelerating innovation that can fundamentally transform how the industry works. To the credit of regulators in most countries, the need for progressive efforts is being emphasized more than the imposition of a series of impractical regulations. Digital technology is suited precisely for this agile accumulation of progress.
The news that circulated earlier this year was about global energy company bp exploring ways to deliver energy as a service. They brought their strengths in energy and mobility together and extended them with digital technologies to create an AI-enabled EaaS offering to manage energy assets and provide low-carbon energy (electricity and heating / cooling), as well as low-carbon mobility to large campuses. . If their pilot serves them well, there are plans to offer the service to industrial and commercial parks, and then to towns and cities, opening up a new source of differentiation and income for the energy company. And most importantly, lead the way to sustainable energy.
Another interesting turn of events is that of a North American energy giant adding a new grid-scale wind or solar power plant every month, month after month. They rely on a digital technology association to help with the onboarding of data systems and also to run the analytics for these deployments. The company is exploring ways and means to take on a very comprehensive set of offerings for electric vehicles and also to scale solar energy storage with digital advancements.
Earlier this month, Southern California Edison announced the nation’s largest electric vehicle charging infrastructure project by any utility company, to install nearly 40,000 charging points over the next 5 years. The company has seized a new opportunity: it will install and maintain the supporting electric vehicle charging infrastructure, to differentiate itself. This will also give you access to new customer data from the charging stations, such as the type of car they own, how much they travel, when they may need to recharge, etc. Digital technologies are at the heart of this initiative.
In fact, we launched our Energy Innovation Centers in Houston and London to help more companies explore and explore opportunities in this area.
Clearly, the path to zero is digitally paved.
The energy sector is being reshaped by two main trends: the transition to non-fossil fuel resources and the decentralization of production and distribution. Digital technologies such as AI / ML and analytics are playing an important role in enabling the industry to take advantage of these changes. There are new opportunities yet to be imagined and well defined, for income generation and differentiation, as a result of these trends; and the game is powered by technology. It’s not practical for energy companies to go it alone, but there are technology providers with robust platforms and solutions that can help them run their operations much more efficiently, as well as explore further for value. Focusing on creating and distributing greener energy while relying on a partner for technology makes more sense than ever today.
Ashiss Kumar Dash is Infosys Global Head of Utilities, Utilities, Resource and Energy Industries.
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