Cleantech Market Intelligence
Intelligent Buildings and the Energy Cloud
Last year, Navigant introduced the concept of the Energy Cloud to describe the current transformation of the power industry. The idea is that the energy network is revolutionizing through technological innovation and the introduction of new business models. The Energy Cloud reflects a shift away from a one-way power system toward a highly networked ecosystem of two-way power flows and digitally enabled intelligent grid architecture. At the same time, generation resources will become more diverse, moving away from the dominance of large centralized generation plants to more dynamic distributed generation resources.
There are infinite business opportunities in this new paradigm of energy supply and demand. Commercial buildings have an integral role to play in supporting reliable and resilient power through the evolving infrastructure. Commercial buildings present siting for distributed and renewable energy, and this is the most straightforward opportunity for new revenue in the Energy Cloud. Things become much more interesting when innovative technologies integrate control, automation, power systems, and software analytics to redefine the commercial building as a node in the Energy Cloud. This technology layer creates an intelligent building business asset, and Navigant introduces this concept as building-to-grid (B2G) in the new white paper Navigating the Energy Transformation.
The keystone for B2G is the development of building interfaces that enable seamless integration with the power grid. Where today’s traditional commercial buildings represent a major source of energy demand, greenhouse gas emissions, and business cost centers, the B2G concept leverages technology infrastructure as part of a broader distributed energy resources portfolio within the Energy Cloud.
The US Department of Energy has also outlined the importance of B2G, stating “The current lack of dispatchablility is the fundamental disconnect between the current state in which buildings are passive, ‘sleeping’ untapped assets for operators and building owners, and the future state, in which buildings could act as distributed energy assets, functioning as ‘shock absorbers’ for the grid, opening up new value streams for owners and operators, and, in general, playing an essential role in enabling a more efficient, green, and secure energy system.”
The transition from sleeping untapped assets to B2G relies on the integration of intelligent building technologies. A building energy management system (BEMS) is the heart of the intelligence that enables this transition. We recently published a new Navigant Research Leaderboard Report, which presents the strengths and weaknesses of 15 BEMS providers. The investment in these software solutions helps customers start down the pathway toward B2G. While the Energy Cloud is the future of the power industry, B2G is the concept that redefines commercial buildings as material business assets.