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Will 'Rid-Edge' be the Next Grid Edge?

When evaluating our tech trend expectations the key question is simple:  Is our expectations’ degree of inaccuracy acceptable?

To think you can set your technology trend expectations right is like thinking you can set your thermostat right. In both cases your set expectation will be overshot or undershot by reality most of the time.

When evaluating our tech trend expectations the key question is simple:  Is our expectations’ degree of inaccuracy acceptable?

When we consider the changes underway in terms of utilization of so-called “grid-edge” initiatives in support of new initiatives, the lines start to blur between things we used to consider separate, such as storage and load.

For example, how are we to view the thermal state of water in a hot water heater—is it a form of load, or a form of storage? The answer, increasingly, is context-dependent.

This is but one simple example.  But it illustrates a larger point.  Consider all the devices in the home and workplace which can be, or will be, addressable with Smart Grid technologies. 

So how are we to position and view these Smart Grid and grid-edge trends?

When we name something with a label, such as “Grid Edge” or “Storage” or “Virtual Power Plant” (VPP) or “Energy Cloud,” it can be helpful, but it can also introduce blinders if we tend to get too trend-oriented in our thinking.

We need to put labels about trends aside, every now and then, and look deeply at what is going on. So, for example, while storage is important, it is not, despite some prognostications to the contrary, the key driver for VPPs unless you include the storage of human intentions which can delay our pressing a button—a.k.a. Demand Response.

Utilities are not only using tools for demand response to reduce peak demand—they are, increasingly, dispatching those DR “negawatts” so as to monetize those capabilities with their balancing authorities or so-called ISO’s or RTO’s (Independent System Operators or Regional Transmission Organizations).

All workplaces have their workhorses, and their show horses. The marketplace of ideas is no exception.  But when our tech trend show horses start neighing unnecessarily, it is time for us to help them take off their blinders.

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