- Energy Efficiency
- Non-Wires Alternative
- Demand Side Management
- Emissions Reductions
- Utility Communications
2019: The Year of Integrated Efficiency
Energy efficiency is the most readily available tool to tackle climate change. Similar phrases were perhaps the most commonly touted statements at the efficiency-focused events I attended in 2019. As extreme weather made headlines for another year, energy efficiency really does remain a tool to reduce climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions. However, the efficiency strategies of 2019 are not your mother’s light bulb replacement.
- Device disaggregation and marketing
- Locational value of energy efficiency
- Climate change and emissions targets
- Online energy marketplaces
Device Disaggregation and Marketing
Through hardware and software device disaggregation technologies, program marketers can better understand what programs and customer classes to target to secure new energy savings. Device-based disaggregation uses devices placed in the home or business to understand where there is room for efficiency improvement. In large commercial facilities, the addition of technologies such as automated fault detection and diagnostics can alert building and energy managers to areas of potential leakage. Where device-level aggregation is not available, modeled disaggregation based on inputs from engaged customers participating in online or in-person energy audits allows for more targeted program design and marketing. These insights may lead to improved cost-effectiveness in utility programs.
Locational Value of Energy Efficiency
Along with improving customer targeting, improving visibility into grid infrastructure and capacity constraints allows utilities to geographically focus energy efficiency initiatives to the regions where energy savings are of the highest value. Many non-wires alternatives (NWAs) demonstrated this trend through targeted demand side management (DSM) programs in 2019.
As most states and global regions are not expected to mandate the exploration of NWA at the start of 2020, advanced metering infrastructure already deployed by utilities plays a role in determining where energy efficiency projects are most beneficial. If paired with device-level disaggregation, this data could allow utilities to provide specific technology-centric programs (such as rebates for highly efficient equipment) to customers residing within specific geographic bounds.
Climate Change and Emissions Targets
Public pressure and related goals set by local governments or private businesses continue to drive efficiency in the coming decade. Not a new trend in 2019, the urgency with which much of the public and private sectors are working to tackle climate change continues to pick up. Legislative and regulatory bodies are increasing utility energy savings targets and corporations are looking to outfit their facilities with highly efficient equipment while integrating their efficiency work with other onsite energy management tactics.
Online Energy Marketplaces
Utilities of the future must become a trusted energy ally to their customers, and their services must move beyond solely selling power. While not expected to steal Amazon market share overnight, more utilities are launching marketplaces with advanced functionalities. By selling energy and other home and business management technologies (think security), online marketplaces provide regionally appropriate hardware, device comparison, and technology reviews. These websites also have the potential to drive additional utility DSM program enrollment.
These four trends indicate a new generation of energy efficiency that takes advantage of the attractive new devices coming into the energy market. Under the pressure of global climate change and following continued customer desire to save on utility bills, energy efficiency is expected to take back some of the spotlight in 2020.