We assembled a group of policy, technology, customer engagement and business experts from within our CLEAResult leadership to forecast the future of energy efficiency in 2016. Read our list of trends and predictions related to energy efficiency and where it’s headed in the new year.
1. The emergence of Li-Fi
If you haven’t heard of Li-Fi yet, you’re likely to in 2016. Li-Fi, or light fidelity, is light-based communication technology that uses light waves instead of radio technology to deliver data. With this technology, Li-Fi-enabled LED lamps can transmit data at groundbreaking speeds. In the coming year, Li-Fi will increase the value offered by lighting systems by providing the opportunity to gather and share data. Companies such as retailers will begin to deploy Li-Fi powered LED ceiling lights to gain data related to in-store customers.
2. Evolution of demand response (DR) programs
Software technologies and mobile devices aren’t just changing our day-to-day lives, they are changing the way utilities ensure grid reliability and communicate with their customers in real-time. With the rise of the cloud, data analytics and social media, utilities are turning to Behavioral Demand Response (BDR) programs that combine the power of real-time analytics and two-way communication to reach a broader consumer base and put more control in the customers’ hands.
3. Bringing electric vehicles (EV) to the grid
With EVs continuing to penetrate the market, utilities need to adapt and create strategies to help connect more vehicles to the grid. Consumer demand for EVs will not grow without more active engagement spanning from manufacturers to car dealerships.
4. Lighting as a Service disrupts an industry
Many organizations seek to upgrade to LEDs, but one of the greatest barriers is the upfront cost. Lighting as a Service (LaaS) will change that, eliminating the initial price tag. With LaaS, service providers switch out old, inefficient lights with new and energy efficient solutions at no cost. The projects are paid for through energy and maintenance savings that the switch ultimately yields. This update to traditional performance contracting deals will be an industry disruptor in the coming year, especially with the emergence of technologies such as Li-Fi.
5. Big data provides big insights
As the proliferation of devices and technology grows, more and more data is available to help understand customer behavior. As utilities look to increasingly understand their customers, many may turn to this data for insights.
6. Digital engagement expands utilities’ reach
Digital engagement will have a more profound impact on utilities in 2016. Digital marketing and marketing technology means utilities can do more with less and deliver tailored messaging based on the their consumer’s past experience with them, specifically past engagement with energy efficiency. Digital engagement also provides increased metrics that can evaluate performance.
7. HEMS increases savings
Home energy management systems (HEMS) go beyond the smart meter to a connected system. These systems provide valuable data and increased end-user savings in a method that is easy to implement and control for utilities.
8. The changing policy conversation
Many discussing policy will shift focus from “energy consumption” to “greenhouse gas emission reduction” due to factors such as the Clean Power Plan, the Alberta government’s regulatory changes, carbon prices and the recent COP21 agreement reached in Paris.
9. Real-time monitoring drives optimization
Information from real-time monitoring using energy management software will support other trends we’ve identified (including our predictions for 2015). Its use in industrial facilities will push continuous optimization of systems reducing energy and maintenance costs while decreasing downtime and increasing productivity. Many controls companies are integrating energy management dashboards into their existing systems.
10. Industrial self-generation grows
Industrial self-generation will increase in the form of renewables, heat recovery generation, combined heat and power (CHP) system, and more. There are energy efficiency benefits from generation in terms of decreased line losses, higher efficiency technologies for distributed generation and use of waste as a fuel source (biomass and excess heat). There are also localized benefits to the end use consumer: Less reliance on the grid providing energy security, increase system reliability, potential for carbon credits by using a cleaner fuel source than what comes from the grid and decreased waste.