Millions of Small Laboratories Reinventing Electricity
Personal Energy Innovation will soon reflect the explosion of creativity we experienced when PCs became ubiquitous in the Personal Computing Era 35 years ago. Where before, computing had been the realm of big business, mainframes and minicomputers, suddenly access to information was opened up to millions then billions of individual desktops and then laptops. And again, when all those PCs were networked together on the Internet and the World Wide Web 20 years ago, what I have called the Personal Telecom Era, the innovative trends were strengthened still further. After 20 plus years of the internet, we see value compounded by mobility, platforms and apps. Gradually, millions then billions have enjoyed new opportunities to innovate, giving us these familiar examples of new capabilities (also described as Personal Telecom as a Service (PTAAS), here):
- to search the world’s data and add to it
- to publish personal perspectives on websites without the interference of editors
- to talk to each other online in massive linked conversations
- to purchase goods and services online and buy and sell from each other
- to produce and share video content
- to easily form groups online and shift their social lives online
- to go mobile with new platforms and apps
Now Energy, not information, has become the new frontier for innovation. It is easy to see how Personal Energy is likely to follow the familiar pattern established by personal computing and personal telecom. As described on this page, Personal Energy Innovation will become a new force to drive change in electricity into a new cleaner, more sustainable future.
Iterative Data Innovation Cycle
The graphic above describes a logical progression that a Personal Energy prosumer would take in our increasingly dynamic world, where change has become a constant. Much of the change comes from increasing digitization and communication, sometimes described as the Internet of Things.
- Data Acquisition. Now, more data from sensors are becoming available to feed data analytics engines
- Data Analytics. The data analytics engine analyzes the data and detects patterns, much as the human brain does
- Insight. When personal insight is applied, new perspectives on old problems present new ways to go about things – new hypotheses
- Action. Now there are opportunities to test hypotheses, where the prosumer can take small safe actions, trials, to confirm or refute the hypotheses
- Innovation. And then, based on Steps 1-4, it becomes time for innovation: drawing from observations on the experiment, new ways can be formulated to approach the problem
- Data Acquisition. Based on the innovation, new data can be sought out, and the cycle begins again, and each iteration refines the value proposition
In this way, innovation becomes the key to planning at the outset, and at each subsequent stage of Personal Energy Innovation, as described in the Quintessential Innovation Model below. Innovation proceeds in iterative refinement loops with sufficient data feedback.
Quintessential Innovation (Q2i) Model
The Q2i Model is described as quintessential because it is driven by five levels of innovation in two directions. Q2i harnesses the Iterative Data Innovation Cycle in a logical progression of increasing energy independence, what we describe here as Personal Energy Innovation across five stages. In the Q2i Model, the logical steps of moving from an Awakening Consumer to a Networking Prosumer (the stages are also described in the Consumer Maturity Model in the Toolbox here) are depicted in columns moving from left to right.
- Planning. At this planning stage, the newly Awakening Consumer uses a variety of data to gather new insights and conduct personal experiments, growing in knowledge and experience along the way.
- Efficiency. Soon, the Awakening Consumer advances to a new level, the Mobilizing Customer, ready to seek out and find areas of Energy Efficiency, eliminating waste in the building envelope (the floors, walls, windows and roof) and in energy-using appliances inside the building (lighting, heating and cooling, appliances, digital devices, etc.). Again, this process harnesses the Iterative Data Innovation cycle with each identified area of conservation.
- Net Zero Energy. As this process continues, the Mobilizing Customer advances to become a Conserving Customer, having eliminated much of their wasteful energy consumption behaviors. With the addition of onsite energy production (e.g., solar power) and possibly, energy storage, the energy bill diminishes until, on balance over the course of a year, it is at net zero. As before, this process is driven by stepwise innovation.
- Positive Energy. With growing personal energy sophistication and independence, the Conserving Customer evolves into an Innovating Prosumer, the next stage. As the price for modular onsite energy continues to fall, the opportunity arises to oversize the system and actually produce excess energy for sale. Indeed, such provisioning may have occurred in the previous step, based on the value proposition of onsite energy. With a contract to sell the energy back onto the grid (i.e., a power purchase agreement), the state of Positive Energy is achieved. As a prosumer, the Personal Energy individual or business has moved into the new level of peer with other energy producers.
- eNet. The age of the Energy Internet (eNet) is an age of constant innovation. A sufficient number of Innovative Prosumers are required to make up a new marketplace, where peer-to-peer energy transactions may begin (i.e., transactive energy). Here the Innovative Prosumer becomes more deeply involved with community and with trading, becoming a Networking Prosumer. At this stage, the Transformative Electricity Era has arrived and constant innovation throughout this model drives value going forward.