Editor In Chief, Teresa Hansen
Having just returned from DistribuTECH 2016 in Orlando, I had a hard time narrowing down a topic for my letter this month. As you’ll see when you read Senior Editor Rod Walton’s DistribuTECH Wrap-up article beginning on page 10, the event covered a lot of noteworthy topics and technologies. The sophistication of the booths, as well as the technologies on display, in the exhibit hall were incredible. As the chairwoman of the Conference Advisory Committee and a member of the DistribuTECH management team, I was thrilled to see not only so many companies in the exhibit hall, but so many companies that invested a lot to showcase their technologies and solutions to those who attended the event.
The exhibit hall was not the only area of the event that was buzzing; the conference sessions also were top-notch this year and attracted big audiences. As the wrap-up article title indicates, much of the content and conversation at this year’s event centered on disruptive technologies and what strategies can be developed to turn these disruptions into opportunities and increased revenue. I heard several speakers say that utilities must adapt to survive. It was not unusual for the sessions to be standing room only. This was especially true in the room that housed a brand new track titled “Energy Storage, Microgrids and Emerging DER.”
Three of the five sessions with the highest attendance came from that track-a track that didn’t even exist at DistribuTECH 2015. Attendees were interested in utility-owned microgrids, microgrids and distributed energy resource integration, and energy storage and the grid. Peaked interest in these areas should be no surprise to those of you who keep up with grid innovations and the changes occurring in generation resources and customers’ expectations. In one of its latest Energy Storage Tracker reports, Navigant Research, which has conducted several research projects on energy storage, revealed that nearly 700 MW of energy storage were announced in 2014 and 2015. In a similar report, Microgrid Deployment Tracker (ninth edition), Navigant revealed that at the end of 2015, some 1,437 global microgrid projects existed. They represent 13,400 MW of operating, under development and proposed microgrid capacity.
DistribuTECH attendees’ interest in energy storage and microgrids certainly supports what Navigant’s reports reveal: these topics and related technologies will play a big role in the future of electricity supply and delivery.
I’m anxious to see how these topics trend in the future. In addition, I’m anxious to work with the DistribuTECH Conference Advisory Committee to determine what new topics should be added for 2017. Smart cities, perhaps?