Driving battery storage, IoT, electric transportation mainstream
As investors and corporate strategists look out over the next five years to figure out what technologies will propel business towards a low-carbon future, three phrases dominate.
IoT, storage and EVs.
Big Data connected via Internet of Things (IoT) software is changing what’s possible in industries ranging from farming to building management and manufacturing, allowing energy and water efficiency responses to actual situations on the ground as picked up by data-reading sensors.
Battery storage, particularly when coupled with solar or wind power, already is beginning to alter energy delivery, transportation and the very possibility of access to electricity.
And electric vehicles (EVs) made possible by battery storage are disrupting not only personal car choices by eco-conscious drivers but transportation generally. Public transit in 15 or so years, some predict, won’t look anything like it does today and it’ll be a lot cleaner.
A panel of venture capital investors and corporate venture or R&D strategists selected 100 companies innovating in these areas that they expect will be able to commercialize their inventions over the next five to 10 years. The Global Cleantech 100 were announced mid-week by the Cleantech Group. Buzz about their prospects was all the talk at the group’s San Francisco conference Cleantech Forum.
“The nexus between energy efficiency and IoT” perhaps has found a sweet spot when both technologies combined can make a big difference in energy spending, said Joe Costello, CEO of Enlighted Inc., the North American winner in the Cleantech 100 rankings.
In an interview with GreenBiz, Costello said he has been interested for a long time in the energy efficiency possibilities as helped by Internet technologies. But now, with the precision of IoT sensors, Enlighted can solve other problems a company might have, such as facilities management, while also saving ilot of money on electricity used for lighting.
Clean tech can’t bank on customers just wanting to do the right thing for the environment, he said: “You have to create something so people cannot afford not to do the right thing.” Enlighted sells LED-based lighting as a service — doing the design, installation and financing — and has found that customers typically save 70 to 90 percent off what they paid before in lighting.
One innovation is selling lighting as a service, Costello said, because companies don’t want to budget for plant upgrades but if the spending necessary is covered by the energy cost savings, as it is in Enlighted’s system, they’re happy.
When technology answers a need that people or organizations can’t afford not to have, it is revolutionary, he said. That’s when technology “can so change the dynamic that it doesn’t matter if people are set in their ways; in the end it can make things so much more economical, valuable and functional that people won’t have a choice but to change.”