Neetika Sathe, Vice President of Corporate Development and Smart Grid Technologies at PowerStream Inc., gave an engaging speech in front of a packed house at the Peter Bronfman Learning Centre of Ryerson University Nov. 10. Here are seven things we found out from her:
1) Our cellphones are bigger energy consumers than we ever considered.
Sathe discussed our dependency on cellphones, and how they can be a huge consumer of energy that one does not normally think. But cellular data centres must be running 24 hours a day. “This device that our life depends on…it can become extremely energy intensive,” said Sathe. “And we don’t give that a thought when we’re thinking about conservation.”
2) There are five “megatrends” that are transforming the energy sector.
Sathe discussed the five “megatrends”, as identified by PricewaterhouseCoopers, and how they are already affecting the energy sector: demographic and social change; a shift in global economic power; rapid urbanization; climate change and resource scarcity; and technological breakthroughs.
3) Energy storage is becoming more sophisticated every day.
The energy sector is rapidly approaching aggregation across multiple microgrids. “You are no longer just talking about energy storage from one battery, you’re talking across multiple batteries and multiple microgrids,” said Sathe. A step further, she said, will be aggregating across different types of assets: microgrids, demand curtailment assets, and generational assets.
4) Ride-share services and self-driving cars are going to be a big part of the future.
“We’re talking more collaboration, more sharing. The next generation is about car sharing, autonomous vehicles, and electric vehicles coming together. That’s where the world is going.” Sathe stressed that the sharing of traditional assets will have a positive impact on the energy sector, both economically and environmentally.
5) The future of the energy sector will be software-based.
“As you move up, the game is becoming more of software application than hardware equipment itself.” Though PowerStream itself has not incorporated it yet, Sathe stressed the importance of data analytics to renewable energy, as well as a “good understanding of privacy issues and cyber threats,” which aren’t understood well enough and could pose career threats in the energy sector.
6) Worldwide solar energy is forecasted to increase from four per cent in 2015 to 29 per cent in 2040.
Sathe spoke about an optimistic future for solar power, and how it is expected to keep on expanding to represent 29 per cent of the worldwide energy sector, according to Bloomberg. This connects to the megatrend of climate change because solar power will be essential in the inevitable transition from fossil fuels to renewables.
7) Keep your eye on where the puck is going to be.
“It’s not about where the puck is – keep your eye on where the puck is going to be.” Reciting a famous Wayne Gretzky quote, Sathe said that this would be tough to do considering the implications of a Trump presidency. However, she remains hopeful, and said the energy market is “not same old same old anymore.”
Sathe’s speech was followed by a Q&A session led by Bob Singh, IESO Distinguished Research Fellow at CUE.
Kiki Cekota is a second-year Journalism student at Ryerson University.
This blog was originally published December 5, 2016 by the Centre for Urban Energy at Ryerson University.