Continuing with the Christmas theme from my last blog, “Do You See What I See?,” I wanted to take another opportunity to share more information on what is coming over the horizon in the marketplace, but from a perspective of even further into the future. In this blog, “Do You Hear What I Hear?,” I will share what I am hearing from my involvement as a leading sensor supplier on a global basis. The intent of this blog is to share something before it is actually being seen. It is from the standpoint of “you heard it here first”.
So with that, let’s “put our ears to the ground” so to speak and find out what is coming.
1. The electrical grid overhaul will commence in late 2014 and extend for 5 years of heavy investment
What will this mean? This means that the electrical grid itself is going to be injected heavily with alternative energy sources such as Solar, Wind, Hydro, etc., at a rate double as what has been seen in the past. This also means that you will see an influx of other attachments on the grid, such as energy storage (as recently mandated in California), electrical vehicle charging (and putting back on the grid for money), more independent solar being used and putting power on the grid, as well as other grid optimization technologies such as Volt-VAR Optimization (VVO), reactive power monitoring for stabilization, sensors on your local pole top and pad mount transformers outside of your home, etc. The energy storage portion is important, as this will compensate for the variability found in many of the alternative energy sources. The whole “Smart Grid” really started as an evolution of AMR (Advanced Meter Reading) and AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure). The thought process was to equip all of the end points with “smart meters” and therefore use this infrastructure to enable the Smart Grid to become a reality. Well…it has not worked like that. What I am hearing now is that it will become a reality starting in late 2014. Everything will start to be connected, and by 2015, all of it will start to be connected to the “Internet of Things” or as some say now, the “Internet of Everything”. Who is going to lead this charge of connectivity and utilizing the mesh network created by smart meters? It will be the companies that revolutionized Smart Meters – companies like Tantalus, Silver Spring, Itron and others. They have the infrastructure design already, and it will be them who will lead the expansion and development of this infrastructure.
2. Coal is going to flat line and start to go down as an energy source, more than what you are seeing now.
There will be numerous plant closures for coal power generation, mainly in the Western World. This will be driven by environmental regulations tightening on emissions but also driven by the lowering cost of alternative energy sources making them closer to “parity” and move available. Naturally, coal is not going to go away, as what is left for coal plant power production will become significantly more efficient in operation and well as drastically reduced emissions. I see many plant owners and operators delaying and delaying on investment. Why? Well, what I “hear” is that they don’t know if these plants are going to be around tomorrow or the year after. So, why are they going to invest heavily in those plants? Therefore, you will see a “thinning of the herd” and massive closures of older, outdated and unable to be rejuvenated plants coinciding with a massive ramp up of alternative energy sources. The change will really start in 2015, and will be methodical and spreading. Right now, China is gearing up to starting thinking “green”. They are training and educating their leaders in order to get ready to make a truly positive environmental impact. They will lead the way globally on getting off of the coal crutch and moving in a “green” direction.
3. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle.
You are going to see many new technologies coming up that are truly going to make a difference. There will be new revenue streams based on waste recycling that will then feed back into energy usage globally. Companies such as PolymerGreen, who have invented a revolutionary process to bring all types of plastics back to fuel oil at a cost effective and highly efficient rate. In late 2014 and beyond, many of the power giants out there will be scrambling and fighting to become more and more greener. The BP’s, Chevron’s, Shell’s, etc. will embrace heavily the recycling movement and start bringing in more recycled fuels and products into their processes. Waste facilities will start to find new uses for their waste streams (power generation through methane recovery, recycled plastic to fuel, more diligence on glass, paper, etc.). Who is going to lead us into the green horizon? Right now…it will be China. They may have been one of the largest offenders in the past, but they have the most to gain and will be able to make the biggest impact the fastest, without regulations and government bogging them down from doing it. In fact, the government will “help” them do it.
You will see more and more companies, organizations and others go for “self-sustaining” and get off reliance on the traditional electrical grid. Take a look at Microsoft as the latest announcement where they have made a 20-year deal to buy wind power. Companies will start driving to find ways of sustaining their own operations and livelihood, and pull back from the traditional grid. The wave has started already. It will start with large corporations and their campuses and industrial plants, and once mature (2016), start to move to municipalities who can afford and are willing to unplug themselves from traditional electrical grid power.
These are the 4 things I hear, through my discussions, my reading, my watching…my listening.
Do you hear what I hear? Do you hear something different?