Next Generation Utilities

The electric-utility industry is currently facing enormous changes that are fundamentally adapt quickly in this new competitive market. As more businesses and homeowners install solar panels, wind turbines and other electricity and heat generating equipment, the utilities that rely on revenues from selling more power must develop a new business model to stay competitive. There are several pressing issues that Cleantech Finance can provide expertise and research.

Distributed Generation

Distributed energy refers to a variety of small, modular power-generating technologies that are placed at or near the point of energy consumption such as solar pv panels on a home’s rooftop. Distributed energy include a wide variety of technologies, such as solar power, wind turbines, fuel cells, microturbines, reciprocating engines, load reduction technologies, and battery storage systems. Consumers sometimes own the small-scale, on-site power generators, or they may be owned and operated by the utility or a third party.

As distributed generation continues to grow, utilities must adapt to the impacts these technologies have on their revenues and their management of the grid. New technologies, innovative financing techniques and changing policy must be closely watched and analyzed for investment opportunities and risks.

Energy Storage

Energy storage is playing a key role in the development of next generation utilities. Different storage technologies include batteries (both conventional and advanced), flywheels, electrochemical capacitors, superconducting magnetic energy storage (SMES), power electronics, and control systems. Customers and users of energy storage include utilities, renewable generation developers, independent power producers, regional transmission operators (RTO), independent system operators (ISO), and electricity customers themselves.

Cleantech Finance maintains a database of growing energy storage start-ups and projects across the country.

Energy Efficiency

Everyone wants to reduce energy use and save money. The key question that faces consumers is, how do we pay for the much needed energy efficiency investments? Large upfront costs are a major barrier to implementing energy efficiency projects in homes and businesses. Innovative efficiency policies and programs can minimize these upfront project costs so owners are encouraged to invest in energy efficiency improvements and significant retrofits.

Several innovative financing strategies are being pursued by policy makers and forward thinking entrepreneurs that attempt to increase the adoption of energy efficiency technologies.  Examples include on-bill financing, property tax financing (also known as Property Assessed Clean Energy or PACE bond financing), energy service performance contracting (ESPC), and energy efficiency mortgages (EEMs). CtF provides the latest research and analysis for these developing programs and identifies the investment opportunities in this growing field.

Smart Grid

A key set of technologies that utilities must adopt in order to adapt to the changing market is known as the smart grid. The smart grid is a way to computerize the electric grid and includes adding two-way digital communication technology to devices associated with the grid. An advanced smart grid will help utilities become ‘next generation’ as they will be able to effectively manage distributed generation, energy storage and improve reliability through energy efficiency.

New technologies, innovative companies and smart policies are developing quickly and CtF provided the key issues and drivers of the smart grid that investors need to understand.

Cleanweb

The intersection of clean energy and information technology is known as the cleanweb. Start-up firms are harnessing the power of the Internet to make smarter, more efficient use of energy and other resources.  We are currently undergoing revolutionary growth in mobile, social, processing power, big data analytics, and other information technologies that can create opportunities to address the world’s critical resource challenges.

Cleantech Finance maintains a database of cleanweb start-ups and growing firms that are well placed to take advantage of a favorable investment environment. CtF can connect investors and entrepreneurs through its database of investors and start-ups, and provide the latest market trends, research and analysis for those interested in this growing space.

 

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From the Blog

Cleanweb building efficiency firm SCIenergy raises additional $12MSCIenergy Raises Another $12M After Reemerging From Stealth Mode (via Renewable Energy News | Alphatech5) SCIenergy, a building efficiency startup that has spent the last 18 months in stealth mode reconfiguring its software product, just raised $12 million in a round led by Braemar Energy Ventures. The round also included Edison International, Mitsui USA…  
Utility insiders see major changes comingUtility Insiders See Major Changes Coming (Charts) (via Clean Technica) The folks at Utility Dive recently conducted its first annual survey of 500+ US utility professionals, “The State of the Electric Utility.” Overall findings? Utility insiders see the industry changing considerably over the coming decade, with…