"Customers' needs are changing," Carlos Nouel, the vice president of National Grid's New Energy Solutions, told Utility Dive. "They [customers] may want to connect their electric vehicle or install solar panels on their roof or maybe they just want to have more data so they can make better decisions around energy," he said.
And so, subsequently, the energy sector is changing. All businesses, including power generators, are essentially becoming digital businesses. Although digital solutions like AI and machine learning might seem intangible and almost too good to be true, they are usually easily tested, relatively cheaply, and allow users to see results and save money without a huge upfront investment. This is unlike the traditional way operators might look to save money and increase efficiency by investing in hardware upgrades costing millions of dollars. Google recently applied AI technology to reduce its total data center power consumption, which translated to millions of dollars in savings.
Partnering with start-ups and digital-based companies like NeuCo can help operators learn how to save and also test the waters, so to speak. Therefore, the power plant of the future will be fully connected, more efficient, and operational more hours of the year. It will process more data, be more flexible, and still play a vital role in the future of the global energy mix.