The Energy Cloud
shifted the relationships among the various participants - some established players saw their roles diminish, while major aspects of the network are handled by entirely new entities. Expect similar changes when it comes to the Energy Cloud, as utilities, DER equipment providers, "intelligent home" companies and other technology companies all vie for position.
What's most likely to happen, particularly given the regulation in the energy industry that's absent in the IT industry, is that network operations will be managed by a partnership among all those entities. Incumbent utilities will have a crucial role - provided they recognize the coming changes and move rapidly (if not, they risk being relegated to just owning the wires, a commodity play).
These partnerships also will rely on control technology and software from new companies that bring that expertise to the table. The Energy Cloud needs standards around controls and management technology so that different devices and equipment can co-exist seamlessly across the entire network.
At Sunverge we see this leading to the "Platform as a Service" - PaaS - where all the participants can make use of the aspects of the central control platform as needed. Along with that, we also see the emergence of CaaS - Capacity as a Service - that uses the Platform to create Virtual Power Plants that will be a key source of capacity and reliability.
This standard platform has been a core part of our work from the beginning. As part of our Solar Integration System (SIS), the platform has been constantly advanced over the past five years as we have learned from having it "in the field" how to make it even more robust and flexible. To make it a standard, we have built the platform with open APIs so other Energy Cloud participants can take advantage of the control function and the rich data generated by the platform and develop value-added services on top of it.
Thanks to the technology core of PaaS and CaaS, and with these new partnerships, utilities will be able to expand new customer services more rapidly than ever before - and conceive new revenue models never thought possible. This will be as disruptive as Uber, AirBnB and other new companies that are using technology to transform traditional industry sectors.
We expect there to be a lot of interesting developments in the coming year in this Energy Cloud transition, and for this realignment of participants to begin in earnest. While we can't know today exactly how this will look in a few years, we can be certain that even 12 months from now the change will be visible and accelerating.
Ken Munson is co-founder of Sunverge Energy, Inc., where he serves as President, CEO, and on the company's board of directors.
Lead art © Can Stock Photo Inc. / ponomarenko13