2nd Annual Powerhouse conference

Last Friday we held our 2nd annual conference at KPMG’s offices. The conference was split into three main themes: Sector Convergence; Customer Trust, Experience and Empowerment; and finally Big Data, Smart Meters and the Internet of Things. Simon Virley, Partner and Head of Power and Utilities at KPMG opened the conference and emphasised the need for change as energy utilities currently come in the bottom in terms of customer service amongst other industries.

Our first speaker Rikesh Shah, Lead Digital Partnerships Manager at TfL discussed the importance of open data culture. This drives the creation of apps such as Waze and Google Maps and ensures that TfL does not reinvent the wheel. Chet Dhanak, Managing Consultant, Apple & IBM, outlined how National Grid is integrating new technology into its practices. Chet shared an app backed with big data on the management of National Grid’s assets such as Transformers. Features included: real time analytics, remote monitoring and also updating records on asset integrity whilst on site. IBM and SAM manage the big data whilst Apple provides the user friendly interface. The real outcome to such integration is empowering employees and allowing them to make decisions based on asset quality.

Aimee Betts-Charalambous, Programme Manager at Tech UK, outlined some of the potential benefits of sector convergence such as the potential of 9,000 jobs by 2040 and the scope of a world where our lifestyle is energy efficient with little contribution from us as individuals. Aimee also touched on a point that convergence may be a threat and there is also a massive skill gap for this to actively occur. Richard Bailey, Head of New Market Development and Ventures Innovation, BT, painted the picture of the ‘Connected Home’ vs the ‘Smart Home’ and shared how BT is already venturing into new markets such as BT Fleet, a garage service.

The Customer Trust, Experience and Empowerment session started off with Dan Bentham, Head of R&D, Smart Customers at EDF, who highlighted the research occurring within universities on the importance of customers. Dan believes that accurate billing should be our main agenda. Rosie McGlynn, Director of New Energy Services, Energy UK, shared the concept of battery storage in households and how we can have smart changers from our properties, and then how companies like SSE can take control to manage and protect the network. Rosie also spoke about how Manchester is tackling air pollution by deploying an area where diesel vehicles are prohibited, and the exciting concept of Harvesting, which uses the power in Wi-Fi to power other devices, especially as poor battery life is the main struggle of the everyday man and women. The panel discussed more accurate billing, innovative ideas such as Amazon Echo and new start-up companies where customer experience is at the centre.

The Big Data, Smart Meters and the Internet of Things session, was chaired by Simon Merriweather, Director of Cleverness of U, who shared a clip of him skydiving and emphasised the importance of continuously refreshing and renewing, especially in the energy industry. Helen Fleming, Policy Director at Smart DCC, provided a snapshot of the smart metering roll out. 53m smart meters need to be installed, including 28m in domestic properties. Helen explained how the DCC, as a monopoly, fits into the bigger picture in terms of working with the big data from the smart metering national project.

Thomas McGrath, Managing Director at Elutions, emphasised the importance of operational intelligence and operationalising big data. Thomas gave a real life example of a bread making company, which then used data to improve its bread making process. So many sensors were deployed, such as vibration sensors, temperature etc. This data was then analysed and put into a real time operational dashboard. This then allowed the bread making company owner to make decisions on how they as a company can become more energy efficient. The last speaker of the day was Vassilis Seferidis, CEO at Zeeta Networks who aim to simplify control and management of complex networks. Vassilis also shared an example of a stadium, which has a complex network of Wi-Fi systems, CCTV, sprinklers and screen display. Vassilis shared a dashboard which showed all the systems combined into one and showed why better network management means better readiness in terms of emergencies. The panel discussed whether appliance companies should store data vs energy companies on efficiencies, in home display smart meters and their value, fuel poverty, the future of DCC and not being a monopoly, the application of artificial intelligence.

Awards

The conference concluded with a thank you to our Chair, Oliver James and the introduction to our new Chair David Adkins. Also three awards were given on the day, Victoria Upton received the Innovation Award, Alice Gunn received the Young Professional of the Year Awards and Thomas Routier received the Contribution Award.

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