Utilities 2.0: how digitization and decentralization are unlocking new possibilities in power

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Emerging technologies are breaking paradigms in the power sector with improved asset management, smart processes, optimal power generation, transmission, and distribution as well as enriched customer experiences. They are enabling power companies to sustainably generate electricity while curbing expenses to make profits.

The manufacture of industrial assets has been in play for a while now in the power sector and recently emerging technologies such as 3D printing, IoT, and AI are enabling the development of highly resilient parts, intelligent boilers and turbines, and smart panels while automating the processes.

With the advent of industry 4.0, the power sector is going through a fundamental shift in the engineering, procurement & construction (EPC) processes. Modern approaches like geothermal drilling along with technologies such as AI and IoT are aiding to enhance efficiency and accessibility on one hand and improve inventory and logistics management processes on the other hand.

Advanced connectivity is also helping the power consumers to have better control over their engagements with suppliers and make easy payments. They are leveraging blockchain to remove trading intermediaries like banks while enjoying the flexibilities of smart contracts and tokens in the space of clean energy trade. Smart metering solutions are bridging the gap between the power required for usage and its supply by the energy producers. Mobile apps are thus gaining more traction among users as an engaging medium of connectivity than before.

What are the strategic challenges faced by the power sector?

The power sector is laden with concerns like climate change and grid resilience to which companies need to invest in solutions that would help monitor assets better while reducing the inclination towards fossil fuels. 

Climate change

Climate change concerns dictate policy directions in most countries across the world. This puts pressure on utilities to change their power mix to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and increase their renewable energy capacity. 

Aging infrastructure

In most developed countries, the network infrastructure is old and aging. Tasked with replacing this infrastructure, utilities face rapidly rising capital expenditure bills. A key challenge for utilities is to extend the useful life of their assets and maintain service levels while rolling out infrastructure improvements. 

Investment challenges

The regulated nature of the utility business often leads to utilities not being able to recover the costs of their infrastructure investments. Moreover, the environment of reduced sales, tighter margins, increased regulations and competitive pressures hinder investments by utilities. 

Changing demand profile

Energy efficiency measures reduce energy demand, leading to lower energy sales in certain markets. 

Grid resilience

Modern utilities need to maintain a grid that not only delivers power reliably but quickly responds to and recovers from unpredictable disruptions. Utilities need to be able to monitor the physical assets and can perform predictive maintenance to avoid outages.

What technologies are helping the power sector?

Technological advancements are impacting the power sector where a major chunk of adoption is being witnessed around AI, IoT, and blockchain. This reflects their abilities to allow for efficient connectivity among smart grids, smart meters, and computer devices while mitigating risks and facilitating communication between utilities and consumers.

The use cases of emerging technologies in the power sector are spreading across the sector value chain to maximize output, minimize risks, and control costs. Aging infrastructure has always been a hindrance to the development of the power sector in the past. Companies seem to be investing in the quick adoption of emerging technologies to automate processes, improve connectivity, and mitigate hazards.

What is the value chain in the power sector?

The innovation map by sector value chain consists of equipment manufacture, engineering, procurement & construction, generation, transmission & distribution, and end-users. The use cases of emerging technologies in the power sector are spreading across the sector value chain to maximize output, minimize risks, and control costs. 

Equipment manufacture: Emerging technologies are transforming the traditional manufacturing processes where technological advancements like 3D printing, AI, IoT, and robotics are bringing in automated, smart, and intelligent process improvements.

Engineering, procurement, and construction: Engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) players are investing in emerging technologies to run simulations and determine appropriate equipment configuration, size, type, and model to establish an efficient plant system.

Generation: Power generation is a crucial task where emerging technologies are helping forecast load and demand better while handling the waste generated effectively.

Transmission & distribution: Disruptive technologies are modernizing the ways power is transmitted or distributed and their implementations can be witnessed in several aspects like handling risks, storing energy intelligently, and forecasting breakdowns and yield, while optimizing transmission lines.

End-user: The benefits of emerging technologies are seen notably in the ‘end user’ value chain where blockchain, analytics, IoT, and AI, among other advancements, are helping with smarter and greener utilization of power.

Who are the key players in the power sector?

Key players adopting emerging technologies in the power sector include Acecore, BladeRunner, Cenfure, Dewa, DTEK, Eco-Energy, Ecojoko, Emerson, ENEDEX, EnergyVille, Exelon, Vestas, VTT, WattBuy, WePower and Sun Exchange, among others.

Global power sector, by key players

Global power sector, by key players

To know more about key players, download a free report sample

Market report scope

Key challenges Climate change, aging infrastructure, investment challenges, changing demand profile, and grid resilience
Value chain Equipment Manufacture, Engineering, Procurement & Construction, Generation, Transmission & Distribution, and End User
Companies mentioned Aalto University, ABB, Acecore, BladeRunner, Cenfure, Dewa, DTEK, Eagle Transport, Eco-Energy, Ecojoko, Emerson, ENEDEX, EnergyVille, Exelon, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Framatome, Fulton, Gas One, GE, Hitachi, Hydrostor, Imec, Innowatts, IOTA, JD Digits, KAERI, Myst, National Grid ESO, Omron, Overstory, PayGo Energy, Powerledger, Prysmian, PVcase, Quaise, Ratesteer, Schneider Electric, Siemens, Sonnen, Southern California Edison, Span, Sparkmeter, SSE, Stem, Sterblue, Strada, Sun Exchange, Sunrun, Sync Energy, Toshiba, University of Notre Dame, Veritone, Vestas, VTT, WattBuy, WePower, Wire Pulse and Zero Mass Water


  • Theme Exposure: Presents the top themes impacting the sector over the last three years compared to other sectors.
  • Innovation Map: key real-world innovation use cases of emerging technologies implemented by enterprises and startups in the sector.
  • Innovation Insights: innovation examples by each value chain segment of the sector to present key trends.
  • Vendor Map: represents a sample list of vendors in each use case highlighted in the report.

Reasons to Buy

  • No surprise that technology has been a driving force in business transformation for years, but the term ‘emerging technologies’ has all of the sudden become the key catalyst to drive the next wave of innovation across sectors.
  • The sense of urgency weighs different across different sectors, where the direct customer-facing sectors are at the forefront compared to other capital-intensive sectors. Companies in one sector can take cues from successful innovations in other sectors to either draw analogies with existing products, services, and processes or transfer strategic approaches for a revolutionary transformation.
  • Against this backdrop, enterprises need to understand which emerging technologies are impacting their sector and how various companies are implementing them to meet various challenges.
  • The innovation landscape report in power, published by GlobalData as part of an ongoing series, covers some of the key trends, use cases, and real-world examples related to the implementation of emerging technologies across the power sector value chain.

Aalto University
Eagle Transport
Finnish Meteorological Institute
Gas One
JD Digits
National Grid ESO
PayGo Energy
Schneider Electric
Southern California Edison
Sun Exchange
Sync Energy
University of Notre Dame
Wire Pulse
Zero Mass Water

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

1. Sector innovation insights: overview

2. What are the key sector strategic challenges faced?

3. Which technologies are helping the sector?

4. Theme exposure map: sector benchmarking

5. Innovation map by sector value chain: key use cases

5.1 Equipment Manufacture

5.2 Engineering, Procurement & Construction

5.3 Generation

5.4 Transmission & Distribution

5.5 End User

6. Vendor map by sector value chain: key use cases

7. Methodology

Frequently asked questions

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