The Power Utility marketplace is at a crossroads. On one hand, US retail sales of electricity is on the decline. It has stabilized for the last decade at roughly 1 billion kWatts, with the 2020 anomalous consumption seeing a significant decline in both commercial and industrial power sales.
In the most fundamental of arguments, the US retail sales of electricity is going to remain flat or slightly declining. What this leads to is power distribution being only a fundamental service, whereas the importance of building a power delivery platform upon power distribution will be the difference between success and failure; for both the power utility and the vendor community. This is a significant statement for three specific reasons:
- Sensors and automation limited to current power distribution operations, without the integration into revenue generation is a wasted capital strategy.
- Power intelligent grids and assured transmission are only the first steps towards a very large growth in revenue for most power utilities.
- The development of a commercial power demarcation platform that resides on the customer premise as a springboard for new and enhanced services is key to growth.
Service Defined Power Distribution
As revenue flattens, there should be a significant motivation to create the basis for new revenues. As a utility-oriented service, the argument can be made that this revenue will not be substantially increased without a strong architecture change at the customer premise. Consider some of the examples:
• Telecom created a colocation model, created a metro broadband access point, and several other iterations of customer demarcation.
• Cable television created a similar architectural redefinition of their business with digital, addressable set-top boxes.
• 5G wireless networking is going to have to retrofit 4G sites and power up to x10 new 5G sites.
• Software developers abandoned the enterprise model to create the software subscription model for annual revenue streams.
• Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft created powerful gaming consoles that deliver significantly more service than simple games.
Advok8 recommends a four-part architectural strategy, which BTW is an Advok8 focus in our consulting services business. Power delivery network (PDN) is the first part, and the important ubiquitous system to virtually bond together the network controlling this type of architecture. In the illustration below this would be the substation network, the application servers, the IoT delivery platform, and the automation/accounting system.
Second, there is the digitally controlled and switched substation to customer premise electric service, including substation distribution, battery storage, and intelligent grid backup. By using this distributed model, revenue streams are unbundled from simply transmission of electrical service. By creating an automated demarcation point at the industrial and business customer premise, it is now possible to sell services that are from the demarcation point into the building.
The third part of this model is in acknowledging the imperfection is simply delivering a $$$/wattage service. The need for these customers is to be able to re-engineer electrical service, HVAC service, smart home service, lighting and other by-products with more efficiency and more reliability. For instance, even small data centers must now consider the power utility performance before selecting a site of operations. For instance, industrial manufacturing often needs to consider all operations costs before committing to site acquisition. For instance, a multi-site retail business needs to factor in hundreds of technology questions around energy that could easily be off-loaded to expert partners such as power utilities.
Finally, there is the most important aspect of this strategy. Power Utility products and turnkey services design and productization. Customer demarcation, a PDN, and well-designed products promise an opportunity for utilities to add significant services to the platform.
• Turnkey electric services were power is specifically delivered to subsystems within a building, without disruption, and with optimal customer efficiency.
• Data center electrical, HVAC and server-specific powering that is secure, protected, always-on, and eliminates the need for expensive customer solutions to keep the data center running smoothly.
• HVAC and lighting solutions that combine electrical efficiency with major conversions to green energy in these two very expensive areas of any building operation.
• Renewable energy integration is important. Many customers will be looking to blend their renewable energy activities with their power utility supply. Helping them to accomplish this is invaluable to them
• On-site power accounting and analysis of all aspects of these services is vital. The entire reason the power utility would be entrusted is because of the expertise in analysis.
As you move forward, Advok8 is ready and willing to provide a strategic map on how to design and create these new business models. We also have our own web services design team and can build out a working graphical user interface to your underlying substations or technology product offerings. We can advise you on the technology and standards that are most likely to create the PDN by 2030. This is a very exciting time for revising the plan of the power utility distribution network.