Disruption ahead! Nanogeneration and nanogrids could change everything



Quick Take:  I confess to a degree of technology fatigue. Is there any chance we could collectively declare a moratorium on disruptive change? All I'm asking is a year or two off from the constant onslaught of technologies that require massive adaptation.


That will never happen, of course. That's why I need to tell you about two "nano" technologies that look like they'll impact us starting in 2020. Don't shoot me. I'm just the messenger. - By Jesse Berst


Two new concepts -- one relating to power generation and the other to power distribution -- now seem poised to affect the electric power industry as early as 2020.


The first is so-called "nanogeneration." If microgeneration is the production of power at each premise, nanogeneration is the production at every device. Treehugger.com recently defined nano-generation as "devices that come equipped with the means to power themselves." And writing for the BBC, Clemes Betzel, president of G24 Innovationsc described it as "the 'greening up' of everyday products so that they are as near to self-sufficient in terms of energy consumption as is possible."


Today's examples include wind-up radios and solar-powered cell phones. But tomorrow's examples may be much more sophisticated and practical. So practical that they could begin to lower overall demand for power.


For instance, Betzel's company has just built a factory in the UK to manufacturer solar cells that work in ambient (indoor) light and replace cell phone chargers that plug into the wall. And Sony has unveiled a concept collection of devices that never need recharging.

Disruptive Technology for the Advanced Smart Grid


Led by major smart grid deployments currently taking place across the world, the grid will be primed for the deployment of disruptive technologies by 2020. Most of the technologies in this report are at the very early stages of development with respect to their adoption among utilities. However, some of them have the potential to revolutionize the entire electric industry as we know it today.


To get there, billions of private, public, and corporate R&D dollars will be needed to decouple the centralized electric grids that exist today. In addition, a coordinated vision and coalition of likeminded entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists, governments and consumers will also be needed.


The goal of this report, developed by Zpryme's Smart Grid Insights Research Team and Smart Grid Advisory Board, is to provide insight into the emerging technologies that need to be further developed in order to build a more sustainable, agile, and eco-friendly grid. This report is not intended to be an exhaustive review of the technologies mentioned in this report.


Key Takeaways by the Numbers


Seventy-two percent of smart grid and utility executives identified nano-generation/nano-grids as the top disruptive technology to impact utilities and electrical systems in the next 10 years.


Advanced grid automation and switching, advanced data communications, dynamic energy management, and ultra-high voltage transmission (Super Grids) were ranked second through fifth, respectively.


Wireless electricity, ultra-fast EV charging, battery powered homes, utility-telco-cable-internet integration, and digital power conversion were ranked sixth through tenth, respectively.


By 2020, the aggregate annual global market value of the top 10 disruptive technologies is estimated to reach $60.7 billion. The technologies with the most potential, in terms of market value, are ultra-high voltage transmission (Super Grids), advanced grid automation and switching, advanced data communications, and dynamic energy management.


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