Why North America’s Largest Independent Renewable Energy Provider Is Betting On Digital
Betting on new technologies that will transform the energy sector is part of Invenergy’s 15-year history as a company. In 2002, we recognized the business potential in wind energy before many others. Today, we’re North America’s largest independent, privately-held renewable energy provider with 103 projects across four technologies (wind, solar, advanced energy storage and natural gas) and more than 800 employees. And now we are bullish on a new and promising investment opportunity in the energy space: the energy application layer.
As with the wireless industry’s deployment of faster networks and more powerful smartphones, the energy application layer refers to how energy infrastructure is incorporating more sophisticated software. It will accelerate digital innovation and energy’s larger economic impact— including more jobs.
Employment growth in the solar and wind industries is helping to elevate the economic importance of renewable energy. In fact, over the past year, the solar, wind and energy efficiency industries added nearly 250,000 new jobs. As more jobs are being created, renewables costs are going down.
Renewable technologies are now beating nuclear and coal power for affordability, and competing head on with combined cycle natural gas. Given the combination of low price and zero emissions, it is not surprising that these methods contributed to more than 116 GW of global installed generation in 2016. Digital innovation will help solve some of the stress on the grid created by adding renewables and optimize performance.
The decline in renewable energy costs is paralleled by lowered cost of sensors, communication, and data storage technologies. Over the past decade, costs of Industrial Internet of Things sensors have declined by 70 percent, data storage has dropped by 90 percent and micro-controller units are down by 55 percent. In line with these cost reductions, the number of Industrial IoT sensors sold annually is expected to increase from 6 billion to 20 billion units by 2020.