As we usher in the New Year, businesses are still stuck in looking back. Much of the discussion continues to be centered on how businesses are going to recover in the wake of the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, I explored which industries have been fairing well—and which are using technology to help. We have already explored manufacturing and construction. Today, let’s take an examination at what is happening in the energy and utilities sector.
As global temperatures rise and natural disasters—like wildfires and hurricanes—intensify, the nation’s energy infrastructure is under greater stress than ever before. The amount of severe weather is only projected to worsen, with eight of the 10 most destructive hurricanes of all time having happened in the last 10 years. Add to it deteriorating infrastructure and the fact that we are currently experiencing greater electricity demand than ever before, and we are experiencing a perfect storm—pun intended.
The U.S. EIA (Energy Information Admin.)’s Annual Energy Outlook provides an assessment and outlook for energy markets through 2050. It shows energy consumption fell faster than gross domestic product in 2020 and the pace at which both will return to 2019 levels remains uncertain.
When looking at electricity, the report suggests demand grows at modest rates, while renewable electricity generation increases more rapidly than overall electricity demand through 2050. The report predicts motor gasoline remains predominant despite a growing mix of technologies in passenger vehicles, and natural gas consumption growth between 2020 and 2050 is concentrated in two areas: exports and industrial use.
Certainly, addressing the impact of climate change is a top priority of the U.S. Dept. of Energy. To fight climate change, it is supporting research and innovation that makes fossil energy technologies cleaner and less harmful to the people and the environment, while also taking responsible steps to cut carbon pollution, develop domestic renewable energy production, and win the global race for clean energy innovation. It is also working to dramatically increase the efficiency of appliances, homes, businesses, and vehicles.
At the center of all of this is AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning). Mordor Intelligence says the IoT (Internet of Things) in the energy market will grow 10% between 2021 and 2026. Some examples include monitoring the temperature of a room using sensors, predictive analytics network monitors collecting data from sensors embedded in power grids, building automation solutions, and integrated new sustainable DER (distributed energy resources).
Persistence Market Research agrees the IoT in utilities is no longer a niche market, pointing specifically to the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With more people staying indoors and employees working from their residences, this has increased the usage and demand for utilities on a global level. Public and government operators in the utility market are being forced to strategically modify their operations in order to ensure their long-term success in the arena.
At the same time, key players operating in the global IoT in utilities market are augmenting their digital contact center footprint and operations to ensure efficient consultation and support services. End-users operating in electricity grid management domain are procuring cloud computing technologies for effective data management, analytics, and archival. Such factors are boosting the adoption of IoT in utilities industry amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
I recognized this emerging trend even before the pandemic reached the United States. Back in January 2020, I forecasted this would be the decade of sustainability and I am on a mission to help businesses and consumers to focus on green and consume less. Last year, I released my book Sustainable in a Circular World. Now, I am embarking on a new journey. From the Ground Up: Project Sustainability Living Lab home creates the best approaches to building a home and restoring natural ecosystems.
Together with my husband Dave, we will demonstrate and educate how we can create a sustainable, clean, and green future for all homes and future communities in which we live, thrive, and prosper. This Living Lab home will be developed to help the homeowner play a greater role in managing energy usage/consumption through data analytics, transparency, and energy efficient homes. Simply, connected everything through AI (artificial intelligence) and voice-activated solutions will change the way we consume and manage energy usage in communities and neighborhoods.
Since the Clean Air Act of the 1970s, there has been a dramatic reduction of particulate matter in the atmosphere by as much as 70%. But while the U.S. has taken a good first step in reducing overall air pollution, we’ve done a poor job of equity in our communities.
There are many reasons that must be addressed for the poor air quality and localized exposures to hazardous air pollutants in many urban and rural areas that are a significant health risk for children and older adults. While these issues need to be addressed at the federal level and local levels, and addressing these hot spots (industrial corridors, highways, and more), there is more we can do to help existing homeowners and dwellers contribute as well. The Living Lab will explore the best building materials and focus on future generations with innovative solutions to building a home.
From the Ground Up: Project Sustainability Living Lab will give consumers, builders, trades, industry, academia, and government an inside look through the entire process of building a sustainable home. Every aspect of the build will be featured from concept to completion, giving homeowners the why and how of every decision throughout the building process.
All this to say, the adventure continues. Here’s to a prosperous 2022 and a happy New Year.
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