4 Trends Transforming Energy

The energy sector has been transforming into the dynamic, tech-forward ecosystem that we need to increase clean energy production in the US from 40% today to 80% by 2030. Climate tech VC activity has also been skyrocketing, with investments growing 80% to $56b and exits growing 70% to $114b in 2021. With so much hype, we’ve authored the following white paper to distill four emerging trends to watch out for in 2022.

Energy Sector Market Map

*Market map shows some key players in different sectors and is not an exhaustive list
Source: https://www.plugandplaytechcenter.com/resources/4-trends-transforming-energy/

2030 Market Breakdown by Trend Discussed

*These energy market predictions are comparative and not exhaustive
Source: https://www.plugandplaytechcenter.com/resources/4-trends-transforming-energy/

Efficient and connected home

When we turn on our air conditioning or plug in an electric vehicle, or EV, we expect them just to work. But at a grid system level, we’re contributing to the problematic duck curve where the load ramps up just as solar production stops. Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is now producing invaluable insights from troves of data from increasingly IoT-connected homes to solve these issues. Buildings consume 60% of global energy production and produce 38% of emissions (10% from air conditioning). In this new paradigm, air conditioning, combined with better sealed and insulated homes, can be used during peak solar times to essentially consume free energy. Consumers increasingly cede control of their homes to Google Nest’s AI-driven products like “Rush Hour Rewards” to automatically receive incentives from utilities to shift heavy loads to off-peak hours.

Sense and Bridgely are some other leading examples that afford consumers energy savings by sensing the electrical signature of individual appliances in the home from the main breaker. Soon, “active” smart homes will track the behavior of individuals, learn habits, infer preferences, and automatically adjust settings such as the lighting and water temperature in the shower for individual family members. This is made possible by AI and ML and edge computing, where vast amounts of data processing happen in the home rather than on the cloud.

Depending on the season, heat pumps either cool or heat your home. They exchange heat with the air or ground outside and are an impressive 50% more efficient than electric heaters. The annual sale of 4m heat pumps (compared to 6m air conditioners) in the US is helping move heat pump technologies down their cost curve, something that will enable the likes of Gradient Comfort to reduce the $1999 price of their slick window-mount unit.

Dandelion Energy’s leading geothermal heat pumps boast just 25% of GHG emissions compared to fossil counterparts, which will only improve with increased renewables penetration as we electrify everything. Dandelion’s CEO, Kathy Hunnan, and other great female energy leaders like the CEO of Sunrun, Lynn Jurish, should have us all reckoning with the sector’s poor diversity statistics, where women hold just 14% of senior management and less than 5% of CEO roles. Just like climate change, we can do better.

Customer focused, Uplight, an AES company, and European competitor, eliq, bundle energy efficiency products and demand-side response, or DSR, program enrollment easily for domestic customers. This means that energy providers can capture additional value while reducing costs for their customers. Considering energy systems with a more macro lens, like Uplight and Google Nest, leads us to our next trend: Decentralization & Digital Twins.

Author: Mark Dryden
Source: Plug and Play