The Future of Energy is Personal


A powerful new, trend promises to massively transform our relationship with energy*. Leading-edge Futurist John Cooper of Siemens calls it "The Personal Energy revolution". Since the industrial era, energy has been the realm of large, powerful companies.

A Little History

Historically, Steam revolutionized work and travel, then fossil fuel combustion fostered massive advances in all industries, especially the transportation and electric industries. However, up until now, energy has remained a complex industrial concern, requiring massive capitalization and coordination to distribute a commodity, be it electricity, gasoline, or natural gas, over vast, complex infrastructures.

Decentralized Energy Resources

Now, a new type of energy is emerging---"Decentralized Energy Resources" or DER including, not only Solar PV** and LED Lighting, but also emerging technologies like electric vehicles and energy storage. In all of these technologies, we are seeing declining prices, rapid growth, and new business driven by advances in technology and telecommunications. Energy is about to join the broader "personal services revolution", promising independence from traditional grids and electric utilities.

A continuum we have seen before

As technology advances we are moving along a continuum from infrastructure commodities delivered by large utilities to high-value, personalized services which we can acquire ourselves.  Innovation enables greater personalization and value to end-users in mass markets formerly satisfied only by basic distributed commodities, e.g., rail travel, electricity, voice telephone service.

Some of the most successful technological giants have paved the way

Along this familiar path, trod by platform giants such as Google, Apple, and Amazon, new DER entrepreneurs will challenge old business models by offering Personal Energy as a service. While energy will remain as essential as it ever was  (even more so in the digital economy), utilities will lose their exclusivity as producers and distributors. Existing and new companies will innovate with new energy products, services, and solutions, all the way to new energy apps running on new energy platforms, creating vast amounts of value along the way.

Unless a wildcard intervenes, this transformation is inevitable

Whether this transformation takes place in the next seven to ten years or takes longer, it is clearly coming. The implications for the behemoth utilities are significant and far-reaching; they will do well to take notice. Cooper has nailed this trend and we should all take note.

* Yes, we are talking about the same energy that we take for granted, when we flip the light switch or turn the key to start our cars.

** PV: Photovoltaic---converting sunlight to usable electrical current.

Special thanks to John Cooper of Siemens for these fascinating and valuable insights. John's book The Advanced Smart Grid: Edge Power Driving Sustainability, 2nd Edition is available on Amazon. John Cooper may be reached at [email protected]


From "The Herman Trend Alert," by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist.



Joyce Gioia is a Strategic Business Futurist concentrating on workforce and workplace trends. Joyce is President and CEO of The Herman Group, a firm serving a wide range corporate, trade association and governmental clients on an international basis.

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