A DistribuTECH retrospective—looking back to look forward
DistribuTECH International 2020 in San Antonio marked the fourth time I’ve attended this event—North America’s largest conference focused on technologies in the electricity distribution space. The show’s evolution over the years has been very exciting to witness.
In 2017 (and prior), DistribuTECH was more focused on microgrids, nanogrids, and supporting “intelligent” software—platforms that can help recommend which energy source should be used and the best time to switch between them. Other technologies that seemed like all the rage in 2017 included battery-based energy storage systems, diesel gensets, and Solar PV. There was an emphasis on the grid and various IoT technologies. In 2018, there seemed to be an overall shift towards VPP (Virtual Power Plant), ADMS (Advanced Distribution Management Systems), and DERMS (Distributed Energy Resources Management Systems) software technologies and vendors.
This ties in with another DistribuTECH trend that I’ve noticed over the years: a growing focus on software rather than hardware solutions. As the modern grid gets increasingly bi-directional, companies need smart software to manage the flow of data and electrons from distributed generators (sources) and new loads (users) of electricity. Some of the “rising star” software vendors I had first noticed in 2017 were prominent sponsors and had large presences this year. It was inspiring to see those early adopters have become an established presence in today’s market.
Intertrust at DistribuTECH 2020
More than a third of the DistribuTECH showroom floor was dedicated to the Smart Cities and e-Mobility section, a harbinger of the planet’s changing needs and marketplaces. With transportation being responsible for between 30-40% of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, electrification is one of the main ways to help save our planet. EV adoption is a no-brainer, but a clear hurdle towards mass EV adoption remains a ubiquitous, easily available charging network.
Our location within the Smart Cities and e-Mobility section was a natural fit for Intertrust’s Smart City applications. The Intertrust platform helps make data interoperability between smart energy, electrified mobility, and city planning organizations (as well as various third-party data and IP providers) easier and more efficient. Throughout the week, we showcased how Intertrust’s solutions can help accelerate the transformation to electrified transportation by facilitating controlled cooperation among different data owners and internal or external stakeholders. Specifically, we demonstrated how Intertrust can help cities, utilities, EV-charger engineering companies (EPCs), or project owners to collaborate on planning new EV charger placement (any DER, for that matter). We also presented demos of Powerboard, our Industrial IoT (IIoT) application, which helps us offer parametric insurance solutions for wind energy project operators/owners/insurers.
Connecting the data
Overall, the variety of featured technologies at DistribuTECH 2020 was phenomenal, ranging from visualization tools, to drone operators, to grid integration calculators, to digital twins of electricity grids, to even-smarter smart meters. To me, this suggests the increasing need in the industry for solutions that can easily ingest and infer information from various databases—machine and/or human generated, in private data centers or across clouds—and in many formats (IoT or ERP).
Three years ago, DistribuTECH showed many great solutions that were efficient and reliable at enabling instruments to automatically send important data, storing it in (proprietary) databases or data lakes, and providing analytics to find important trends from that data. But as the number of connected, communicative devices grow at an almost unmanageable velocity, and with more publicly available data sources growing, the challenge has become in working across myriad databases and private/public clouds/locations. It’s hard for one organization to do it all—collect, cleanse, manage, and securely store data—then write the analytics to glean the insights contained within. It will take collaboration and trustworthy tools from multiple organizations to manage it all efficiently, while also making sure no privacy rules are violated and complying with all regulations.
Intertrust is ready to take on this challenge. We are already looking forward to DistribuTECH 2021 in sunny San Diego, California. Hope to see you there!
About Shamik Mehta
Shamik Mehta is the Director of Product Marketing for Intertrust's Data Platform. Shamik has almost 25 years of experience in semiconductors, renewable energy, Industrial IoT and data management/data analytics software. Since getting an MSEE from San Jose State University, he’s held roles in chip design, pre-sales engineering and product and strategic marketing for technology products, including software solutions and platforms. He spent 6 years at SunEdison, once the world's largest renewable energy super-major, after spending 17 years in the semiconductor industry. Shamik has experience managing global product marketing, GTM activities, thought leadership content creation and sales enablement for software applications for the Smart Energy, Electrified Transportation and Manufacturing verticals. Shamik is a Silicon Valley native, having lived, studied and worked there since the early 90’s.