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5 energy trends we’re watching for 2016

Big data. Connected devices. Electric vehicles. New regulations. There’s a lot to watch in the energy space, much of which will have an affect on how we consume and manage energy in the future—and how you run your business.

 

Here are the five things we’re watching as we head into 2016.

1. Cap and trade

The cap and trade system will place an emissions cap on every large emitter in the province.  In order to comply with the regulation, companies are going to have to measure, with some degree of accuracy, the amount of emissions they are emitting.  If these companies exceed the cap, they will have to buy credit for those extra emissions.


While that sounds like a lot more work — and it is — there is an opportunity here. If you are able to reduce your company’s emissions below the cap, you’ll be able to sell those emissions out into the market place, generating a competitive advantage by using energy as a revenue source. Part of that means finding inefficiencies in your operations to reduce the emissions you generate by reducing (among other things) the electricity that you consume.

2. Energy storage

The list of benefits that come with energy storage is a long one, but probably the biggest draw is how robust energy storage can help customers reduce their demand charges.
It will also mitigate the fluctuations in energy supply from renewable, specifically solar and wind, absorbing surplus during off-peak hours.

 

You can find out what Ontario is doing in this space here.

3. Mandatory reporting

We’ve been talking about this frequently as of late, and while it does require additional work, that work will lead to companies being able to pinpoint previously unseen areas of waste. You can read more about mandatory reporting here, and if you’re wondering how to get started tracking your consumption, watch this short-webinar.

4. Internet of Things

This is more than being able to turn on the dishwasher from your smartphone. It means technology converging with analytics, allowing businesses to reach a level of operational efficiency never seen before.

 

 

The Internet of Things (IoT) in energy will introduce another level of granularity into energy analysis.  Where once you used your bills to get monthly data about your facility, then you had hourly data about your facility, now you will be able to get real time data about the large consumers inside your facility,  allowing you to identify and manage energy in a more direct way.  It will remove the black box of trying to manage energy from the outside.

 

 

Already, advanced factory automation systems are using the Internet of Things and big data analytics to improve equipment uptime and increase production. It means being able to do predictive maintenance and optimizing across the board.
Even in real estate, energy consumption patterns will be linked to people traffic and time of day, helping to lower operational costs.  Sensors on garbage bins will indicate when the bin is full and ready for collection. Even water pipes can be retrofitted with sensors to monitor for any breaks or leaks.

5. Electric cars

While electric car technology has been improving in spades over the last couple of years, with consumer demand increasing in lock-step, the lack of a fueling — or rather, charging — infrastructure is holding wider adoption back. It’s the typical chicken or egg conundrum.

 

Recently, however, the Ontario government announced that $20 million will be used to build electric car charging stations, a move that will certainly see wider adoption of electric vehicles in the province.

 

That’s important because transportation is the single largest source of carbon emissions in the province (now that we have phased out coal). In a relatively short period of time, we could have electric cars everywhere.
The impact to energy will be two-fold.  First, there will be an increase in energy consumption — we’re transferring all that energy from gas tanks to power lines. Second, electric cars are a form of storage when they’re not being driven. The average car gets used 4% of the time (capacity factor). The other 96% of the time it can be a battery.

 

There won’t be enough cars to have in impact in 2016 but what we’ll be watching is how quickly the transition happens.  It’s been on the verge of exploding for some time—will 2016 be the year it actual explodes?