Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

IoT helps utilities tackle changing market

Steve Rogerson
May 5, 2020
 
The IoT is helping utilities and energy technology providers tackle a changing market across the utility sector globally, according to John Chambers, vice president at Kore Wireless, opening up a panel discussion at last month’s IMC Industrial IoT Online Summit.
 
This, he said, was not just providing big challenges but big opportunities.
 
“There are opportunities to apply IoT to change the way they operate and manage the grid,” he said. The market, he said, was shifting from a standard and centralised model to one that was digitally connected, distributed and individual, even personal. These are combined with regulatory issues and changes in expectations from the consumers.
 
“It is a really interesting space,” he said.
 
Daas Bos, IoT demand manager at Dutch utility Stedin, agreed, saying the energy distribution market had changed rapidly in the past five years. But there was a shortage of skilled workers that was making it hard for companies especially as many workers in the industry were retiring or nearing retirement.
 
Maarten Hektor, managing director of Dutch smart meter platform provider Involtum, said five years ago he saw a trend of increasing flexibility in the grid. Whereas grids used to be stable and inflexible, that was changing. Once, most users were fixed and had monthly invoices. Now, especially with the growth of electric vehicles, users were plugging in short term and paying on demand through their smartphones.
 
“The big challenge is making this digital transformation,” added Bos. “Without the IoT, we simply would not be able to make the changes. It is giving us a more efficient way of working.”
 
The growth of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind have also accelerated the use of IoT technologies, said Chambers.
 
Hektor said one of the problems was a lack of standardisation. This stood out in the electric vehicle market where even in Europe the different countries had their own plans and implementations. This made it difficult as both suppliers and users want a standard system.
 
“We would like the same for each country and that would make it easier for the consumer, but we are a long way from that,” said Hektor.
 
Chambers summarised by saying: “Within the utility market, there is an opportunity to seize the moment.”