Utility Analytics Week has tasty, sweet Halloween opening session
The opening general session of Utility Analytics Week 2016 began on Halloween night with a few informational treats from Georgia Tech’s Dr. Tim Lieuwen.
Lieuwen is professor and Davis S. Lewis Jr. chair and executive director of the Strategic Energy Institute at Georgia Tech. He spoke about energy in an information age.
“I want to talk about some of the key macro drivers and some of the new intersections that are happening here,” Lieuwen said. There are four major themes that will drive the business in the next few years, starting with the age of renewables and the age of hydrocarbons. Across those two ages is energy in an information age and energy in a carbon-constrained world. They interact and meet in what looks like a Twitter hashtag (or a classic pound sign), according to Lieuwen’s illustration: #.
Today, transportation-based “energy” (see: gas) is completely decoupled from electric-producing energy. But, Lieuwen sees that changing in the future as transportation itself becomes increasingly electrified.
“It’s very clear that the renewables business has grown up,” Lieuwen said, examining the first driver, that age of renewables. “Lots and lots of things are happening in the renewable space.”
In the U.S., there’s 80 GW of installed wind capacity. There’s also 32 GW of installed solar capacity, with a positive growth curve.
When looking at the age of hydrocarbons, Lieuwen focused on gas. The U.S. is the world’s largest producer of natural gas, he pointed out.
“This is a multi-trillion-dollar business. We plan. We execute. But, still this trend rather snuck up on us,” he said. Layering predictions from as far back as 2008, there was an expected climb in each prediction, even as the price dropped significantly.
So, with all the items that can change the natural gas outlook, can he predict things going forward?
Well, gas has now increasingly become the fuel of choice for power, Lieuwen added. That’s one. But, it is a gas revolution in parallel to that age of renewables.
Both ages, according to Lieuwen, are now overlaid and intersected by digital changes and climate change concerns, which will change the face of energy over the next few decades starting right now.
“There is no doubt that carbon constraints are going to dramatically affect our business,” Lieuwen said. “Whether those constraints are by law or other reasons, this is where we live.”
So, Lieuwen sees this constraint impacting energy with additional premiums on efficiency, for example.
Looking at the digital worlds crossing over—the final driver--he sees platforms, data and networked energy infrastructure increasingly overlapping.
“Data is the lifeblood that makes it all happen,” Lieuwen said. “He or she who has the data has the gold.”
“Access to data will be the big driver going forward,” he added.
Keep an eye out for more insights from Utility Analytics Week live right here in Energy Central’s analytics community and on Twitter @utilanalytics (the Utility Analytics Institute’s Twitter handle). You can also follow the conference hashtag on Twitter: #UAWeek16
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