Top Energy Trends to Watch in the Commercial Sector in 2018
The commercial sector represents an estimated 37% of the North American energy load. This is virtually equal to the entire residential load. Although there has been an extensive focus, by utilities in developing programs targeting residential participation, the commercial sector has been under- addressed with programs targeting their specific needs. This sector, which is dominated by “commercial buildings”, businesses/enterprises, Government and municipalities, and education, has been slower to participate in the evolving new paradigm of the distributed grid. The following are trends to watch in this sector in 2018.
- Commercial customer participation in integrated demand side management (IDSM)
Increasing numbers of commercial customers will be participating in the growing number of integrated energy efficiency and demand response programs utilities are offering as a single coordinated program of demand side management. With technology advancements in ubiquitous communication networks, digitization, big data and analytics, along with regulatory policies and economic incentives, more utilities are embracing the concept of integrated demand side management. The commercial building market is coming to the forefront as one of the best opportunities to obtain positive results. We believe 2018 will see a new focus on and participation buy this sector.
- Integration of distributed generation and storage into a single combined managed resource
Customer owned, behind the meter, distributed generation will be paired with distributed storage technologies and managed as a single coordinated resource by a growing number of commercial customers. Much of the participation in customer owned distributed generation, in markets like California, has been in the residential sector or on grid. With energy storage technology advancement yielding an increase in capacity and decrease in cost, more distributed generation is being retrofitted and co-located and coordinated with storage. As the commercial building sector embraces the benefits of participating in the economic and operational advantages of the distributed grid we believe they will adopt the advantages of combining distributed generation and storage.
- Expanded trials of blockchain digital ledger for transactive energy (virtual power exchange)
There will be expanded trials of transactive energy (virtual power exchange) in North America allowing behind the meter distributed energy resources (DER) to be financially exchanged between B2B and B2C. As the commercial sector increases their participation in integrated demand side management and makes investments in distributed generation they will be prime targets for participation in what we are terming the “Virtual Power Exchange”. Although most of the programs enabling the financial exchange of power from B2B or B2C are still in the pilot stages globally, a trend is emerging that a blockchain digital ledger will be the foundation enabling technology. The commercial sector, with a higher degree of financial sophistication and speed of technology adoption, will likely be early participants in the emerging virtual power exchange.
- An increased adoption of Energy as a Service business models lead by Energy Savings as a Service
There will be increased interest, by commercial customers such businesses, Government and Education, in an adoption of Energy as a Service business models led by Energy Savings as a Service. With limited initial customer investment upfront, and a program being paid for through shared energy savings this is an appealing model. With the size of the load and the lower risk of default in the commercial sector, this will be a target entry point for the growing sector offering Energy as a Service business models. We believe this is a target segment where Energy Savings as a Service cam provide immediate value. We, at Boss Controls, are the first to bring this business model to the market and expect a significant uptake in 2018.
- An increase in the number of corporations adopting high profile programs implementing corporate social responsibility (CSR) and adopting the concepts of environmental justice
The trend of corporations including Government, municipalities and educational institutions, adopting corporate social responsibility and specifically environmental justice programs will continue to grow as this becomes a metric measured against. This will include public policy implementations for Government and municipality, public pressure on educational institutions and for commercial enterprises the effect it will have on their ability to do business. More frequently, an enterprises commitment to the concept of environmental justice is being used as an evaluation criterion in both Government and privet industry procurement decisions.
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