Utility Week Live 2022 synopsis

Change is happening now in the utilities sector

News 26 May 2022 by Dan Thomas

Leaders and game changers in the utilities sector and others alike gathered for the UK’s only pan-utility exhibition to shape the future of the industries. The NEC in Birmingham was filled with buzz, excitement and indeed urgency on how to tackle the complex issues the sector and wider society is facing right now. 

Protecting vulnerable customers during the climate crisis and in an ageing population, transitioning to net zero, and the cost of living were all at the heart of the discussions at the event. There was a recognition that smart places and digital technologies as an approach are what will enable us to build solutions.

Digital transformation

Group Chief Information & Digital Officer at National Grid, Andi Karaboutis delivered an educational piece, explaining the what, why and how about digital transformation during a keynote. She explained that digital technologies are not what she would describe as a “fad” and that understanding them is absolutely crucial to solving today’s and tomorrow’s problems.

The conversation on sharing data in the utilities sector has evolved and takes on a more real and serious tone and people start to talk about data sharing as a critical need for businesses. IOTICS co-hosted a roundtable with Utility Week about what the digital transformation will look like as companies start to share their data:

Daring to share – Utility Week roundtable 

It was clear that technologies like digital twins and ecosystems are becoming better understood by the industry. The conversation has now become about the attitude and culture needed to use them as an enabling tool for positive disruption. 

Smart places

Many at the conference recalled that discussions on smart places have been going on for over a decade now. Director of Strategy & Regulation at UKPN, Sul Alli gave insight on how smart places are needed to decarbonise cities. He cited the different infrastructure and needs that different cities have as a reason why places need to be smart so that they can be better understood. 

After years of discussion around smart cities, the conversation has moved on. There was a consensus that the term smart places is more realistic. Places such as Portsmouth International Port are already becoming smart:

Smart Places and the SHAPE-UK project

There is division across the board on how data should be shared in order to develop smart places. Some believe that data sharing standards should come from the top, Government level down, however, using existing technology, you can just start today. Read more about the importance of utilising existing technologies to start sharing data now:

We need to start sharing data now

Energy transition

Data sharing technologies are exactly what’s needed to deliver a hydrogen energy transition. Utility Week Live saw the leaders in the energy transition explain how the UK could become a leader in hydrogen production. Head of Systems Development at Northern Gas Networks, Keith Owen explained that hydrogen needs to be produced in local clusters and distributed to suppliers. Projects such as the energy village trail by Cadent gas and their partners highlighted that efficient data sharing is more important than ever before for the success of such trials. 

The hydrogen economy poses several benefits that could be harnessed through the power of data sharing: 

Hydrogen and the circular economy

Utility Week Live 2022 is just the beginning. The sector is rapidly transforming into one that understands the power and value of data and embraces digital, smart places and renewable energy. Innovation and evolution are happening now. Contact us and discover how you can be a leader in your industry and inspire others to follow. 

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