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2020 UK Utilities trends

It’s that time of year when industry professionals release their predictions for the trends that will shape the utilities industry in the year ahead. In 2020, we are set to see the utilities industry grow into its role as leader of the clean energy transition. Below we’ve outlined some of the major trends that we are set to see this year.

1. Sustainability

It appears that the top prediction for utilities this year is going to be moving towards cleaner energy sources. Companies worldwide are beginning to outline their plans for reducing carbon emissions. In December 2018 Xcel Energy became the first US utility to commit to going 100% carbon-free by 2050. Since then, hundreds of organisations have done the same thing.

Climate change goals will prompt utilities to create value from distributed energy resources. These resources will include a rise in online marketplaces for solar solutions. Utilities will be designing solar power systems and home energy management systems for customers. We are set to see a battle between utilities on who can become the most energy efficient.

2. Smart City Programmes

Many utilities are already supporting Smart City programmes, but experts have predicted that in 2020 we will see more getting involved. Utilities are the foundational players of connections to homes and business and so it only makes sense for them to participate in these programmes.

Utilities already have databases of customer data and usage; this is the base of developing smart data. Service providers will be able to help Smart City developers boost flexibility when it comes to reacting to problems. An example is using digitization and automation through data to react to natural or manmade disasters or even down to small faults in the home. It’s apparent that Smart Cities would not be able to achieve their goals without collaborating with the utilities industry.

3. Electric Vehicles

In another bid to help customers cut carbon emissions, we expect to see a bigger shift toward electric vehicles (EV). These will not just be cars, but other vehicles as well, including buses and delivery trucks. Deloitte notes that Amazon recently ordered 100,000 electric powered delivery vans to ship between 2021 and 2024. Utilities will invest in charging infrastructure and accelerate plans to deploy EV and generate revenue from it. In turn, reducing the damaging consequences on the environment.

4. Artificial Intelligence (A.I.)

A.I. is already starting to be used in the utilities industry as it offers a predictive approach to data metrics. Experts believe that A.I. will play an even bigger role in the utilities sector in 2020. For example in its article entitled, How AI and Data Science is Changing the Utilities Industry, KDnuggets outlines that A.I. predictive data capability will be a primary area of focus for utilities. This is useful to utilities for forecasting conditions that may cause power outages and identifying weak points, which means they can be repaired before outages occur. Equally, smart data will enable providers to access customer data to learn about usage patterns and needs.

5. Blockchain Systems

Blockchain is a buzzword in the industry which we will continue to see in 2020. The shared database business model may be introduced more widely to the utilities industry to make exchanges between providers and consumers increasingly transparent and trustworthy.

One example of blockchain database management use in the utilities industry is the centralisation of smart contracts and certificates. Important documents may be managed by blockchain, requiring little interference by authorities and enabling access to all the players in the sector – this model guarantees traceability of changes of important documents.

It is too early to know exactly how the utilities industry will pan out in 2020. However, with the technology trends mention above, and more, utilities will no doubt be taking steps to better serve customers, gain efficiencies and above all, practice clean energy solutions in the year ahead.

MMX is a leading Systems Integrator for the utilities industry. We work closely with UK utilities companies to provide integrated through-life services to fully support the unique challenges of the industry. If you are looking for network support or want to benchmark prices against your current supplier, please don’t hesitate to contact us.