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The top power industry trends to watch in 2018

20/12/2017
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Access to cheap and reliable energy is essential to modern life.

In fact, as energy historian Vaclav Smil has pointed out, access to energy has been an ongoing concern of mankind across the ages.

And 2018 is going to be no different.

The world’s population continues to grow, and thus the demand for energy.

With the threat of anthropogenic global warming meaning we need to transition away from abundant fossil fuels, the power industry is facing mounting challenges to providing cheap and reliable energy.

It’s not all doom and gloom however.

New technologies, efficiency gains, and changes in consumption patterns mean that there are plenty of positive developments occurring for the power industry too.

But if we were challenged to distil these challenges and developments to the 5 key trends to watch in 2018, these would be our picks:
Battery energy storage could fully unleash the potential of renewables in 2018
(Image via Tesla).

Energy storage to unleash the true potential of renewables

To date, the lack of large scale battery energy storage systems has held renewables back from being more widely adopted. By eliminating the intermittency factor that has plagued renewables, battery storage could demolish the main obstacle to renewable energy contributing more to energy grids. With major players such as Tesla, Siemens AES, ABB and others moving into battery storage in a big way, 2018 could well be a ‘breakthrough year’ for battery storage tech. Consider this- a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts that battery based energy storage will grow to as much as 45GW globally by 2024.
Will electric vehicles lead to a 'demand timebomb' for the power industry?
(Image via Tesla).

The rise of electric vehicles

With countries across the globe committing to legislating fossil-fuel powered vehicles off public roads, the inexorable rise of electric vehicles is going to continue unabated. For the power industry however, electric vehicles pose a ‘demand timebomb’.  First and foremost, the power industry will have to cope with vastly increased demand because of the displacement factor- that is, the energy to power electric vehicles has to come from somewhere. If it’s not derived from diesel or gasoline, then it will be up to power stations to provide this power. At present, most countries do not have the generating capacity to meet this additional demand. A second consideration for the power industry will be the infrastructure required for electric vehicles. Millions of new charging points will add significant challenges to grid management.
Expect 2018 to see Data Centres engaging in efforts to reduce their huge energy consumption
More efficient Data Centres will ease pressure

The amount of data that is being created, stored and shared is accelerating. Social networks, smart phone usage, downloads, IoT and connected devices are all placing massive pressure upon Data Centres- consuming huge amounts of power. It is estimated that as much as 2% of global power usage can be directly attributed to Data Centres- rising to as much as 5% in the near future. In order to reduce the pressure that Data Centres place on energy grids, moves are being made to make them more energy efficient. Expect 2018 to see Data Centres maximising power utilisation through renewable energy use, improving power systems and cooling methods as well more highly leveraging edge data centres.
Electricity grids will become smarter than ever in 2018.
The Digital Grid

Electricity grids are becoming smarter thanks to digital solutions. This is a trend which will only accelerate through 2018. Smart grid hardware is increasingly being integrated which can control voltage and redirect current in a coordinated manner. As a result, operations at electricity grids will become more responsive, and more reliable. This development is coupled with the growth of the ‘multi-directional grid’- with consumers able to send power onto the grid and take better control over their energy usage with smart meters and smart appliances.
In 2018 the looming 'Talent Challenge' will become more of a pressing issue for the power industry.
The Talent Challenge

2018 will see the power industry facing a significant ‘brain drain’ due to the imminent retirement of large numbers of older workers. According to a recent report by GE “the average energy worker is seven years older than the average worker across all industries in the United States, and more than 500,000 are expected to retire in the next 5 to 10 years”. The result of this will be a loss en masse of critical knowledge that will create a hard-to-address skills gap. To solve this issue, power companies will have to act immediately in 2018 with aggressive recruitment and talent pipeline strategies.

Energise your workforce with Fircroft

If you want to get a head-start on your competitors in the power industry and ensure you have the talent you need to succeed in the future, speak to Fircroft today.
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The top power industry trends to watch in 2018 - Time to read 4 min
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