We live and work in an exciting time where new technologies are being adopted for everyday use and make our lives and jobs easier and more enjoyable. These are all exciting aspects of the future of the energy industry. On the other hand, greater sustainability in the energy industry is a growing public policy concern as the negative side effects of growing energy consumption (i.e global warming) seem to be outweighing the convenience and benefits of modern energy consumption practices.
But on the exciting side of things again, artificial intelligence (AI) is disrupting every industry, including the energy industry. With the massive amounts of data that is produced by the energy industry, it’s becoming necessary to have smart technology that can interpret this information.
So the question is whether or not the energy industry will become more sustainable and lucrative in the years to come or continue at a slower pace?
What’s New In The Energy Industry?
There are many big words regarding the future of energy like decarbonization and decentralization, but perhaps the biggest one is digitization. Afterall, we’re currently pioneering the digital age and if industries aren’t innovating around the digital world, they’re quickly falling behind.
For the energy industry, new business models and digitization will define how we innovate, which will change the way energy is produced and used in industrialized and developing worlds.
Challenges for the Energy Industry
One of the more interesting challenges, and what may be opportunistic for the energy sector, is how to harness the Internet of Things for the industry. Perhaps smart devices can be leveraged for smart-trade with each other and be cost effective too. Billing applications using this technology will most likely evolve as well.
Cybersecurity is actively being discussed regarding the Internet of Things. Issues such as establishing secure communication protocols are being examined.
And while we are talking about innovation, let’s take a step back and look at that commodity we had discounted for many years: coal.
The Impact of Coal on the Energy Industry
Coal actually had a comeback in the second quarter this year. Not so much in the U.S. but more dramatically in the developing world, according to reports. India had the most dramatic rise in usage at 14% year over year. China, however, is the largest consumer of coal globally as the Chinese use it for 62% of their energy needs.
Coal exports by the U.S. increased to nearly 21 million tons in May and June combined, six million tons better than the same two months of last year. Those are significant numbers considering many have declared coal as DOA.
And what discussion of energy would be complete without a mention of our power grids and their vulnerability? The Wall Street Journal reported Russian hackers infiltrated the networks of U.S. electric utilities last year using phishing techniques and other methods to bypass cyber defenses. Citing officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security report that hundreds of breaches occurred. Though they could have led to blackouts and other interruptions of the nation’s power grid, no major events shut down utilities.
This is just a small glimpse of what’s currently happening and what is to come. Stay tuned to our blog as we dive into this topic more completely in the coming weeks.