Is Technology the Real Driver for Change?

While technology helps us find solutions and adapt to a new world, the customer must still be convinced to adopt them.
Published: Wed 19 Mar 2014

Technology is often viewed as the main driver for change in most industries. As our global needs become more complex and increasingly urgent, more technological solutions are developed. These assist us by increasing our productivity levels in today’s world.

However, for technological development to continue appropriate investment is required and this is often highly reliant on the public’s understanding and awareness of the potential of a technological solution, as well as its application. This is where utilities and vendors need to take the time to understand their potential customer base and communicate the facts to them in the best way possible. We cover this in our article Utilities: Focus More on Consumer Practices.

Energy storage has high economic value

Given the rate of new technological advancement in the electricity sector, the World Economic Forum expects a fundamental breakthrough in the near term stressing that “storage potential will have high economic value in the future.” Those who succeed at producing scalable and economically viable energy storage solutions have much to gain.

Energy storage has been described as the “holy grail” of renewable energy as it will help harness the real potential of renewable energy sources like solar and wind. While many consumers have realized the benefits of generating their own power, the storage thereof has yet to take off on a distributed generation/microgrid level. Energy storage is very much at a developmental stage but it will certainly create a tipping point in the power industry. Once price levels plummet and effectiveness levels improve, perhaps more consumers will be inclined to leave the grid altogether. Energy storage solutions could go the way the PV market did. Oversupply and generous government subsidies could see an escalation in energy storage solution development. We cover this in Consumers Rush to Install Solar PV to Avoid Imminent Lower Feed-In-Tariff and Cheaper Solar Installation-Watershed Moment for Distributed Generation and Renewables.

Don’t underestimate the consumer

While we do agree that technology can transform an industry, one cannot underestimate the power of the customer since they can also have a disruptive effect on the power industry.

While underlying technology is the main driver for any major change in an industry, it’s not the technology itself that causes the change but rather the customer’s willingness to adopt the technology that will drive the disruption.

Customers look for a solution that spans different needs and automates as many tasks as possible, while staying simple (and cheap) enough to use. As consumers begin to both generate and store their own power, things like fault detection, alerts, scheduled reports and deep data insights will be just the beginning.

The distributed generation market is open to both vendors and utilities. While the customer is making the final decision, there may be too many options available to them which can be potentially confusing. This is where the utility can be of use. By enlisting skilled advisors, the customer can make the appropriate choice which will benefit his lifestyle and pocket and the utility gains customer trust.

We think more intelligent behavior around energy will evolve over the next few years and the consumer will want a higher level of sophisticated knowledge to navigate this landscape and select solutions that suit specific needs.