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23 September 2011

Interview with Peter Johnson, VP Smart Grid Business Development, Alcatel-Lucent

 What are the big issues for the Future of Energy at the moment?

The future of energy is a mix of alternative energy sources and changing demand so that it tracks supply.  Nothing innovative there.  But what has to be addressed and where innovation is needed are the three key enablers to make this happen. 

1. The first is regulation.  Today`s regulation is enabling investment in the periphery:  encouraging alternative production and demand management.  It also needs to focus on the bits in the middle: transmission and particularly distribution.  Only regulation can enable and encourage the necessary investment required to make these areas capable of intelligently handling the innovations in production and consumption. 

2. The second enabler is the distribution communciations network.  It is often said that the distribution network was designed as a one way path for energy.  This is true and it is equally true that it will become a two way path.  With embedded generation, demand management and electric vehicles, system managment is going to become increasingly distributed and automated.  Communications is already spreading to the periphery of the distribution network, but for these sorts of applications it will have to become not just universal but extremely robust.

3. Finally there need to be focus on the consumer.  In the telco network it took some time for the "subscriber" to become a "customer".  This has to happen in the energy market and utilities will have to go through the same revolution in consumer handling as telcos did with subscribers.  Why is this a key enabler?  Because with an increasingly energy savvy customer base, with Electric Vehicles (EVs) liable to take off, driving the need to be able to manage the load created by these vehicles, the utility is going to have to take the consumer into their confidence and partner with them to manage their energy networks. That way the consumer will understand the options and will make commercial decisions about how they use energy that can benefit the utility.  The alternative is a standoff, where the utility is liable to lose.


How do you think we can make a difference?

There are three things that we can do. 

1. Engage in the future of energy now.  In Alcatel-Lucent we are doing just that where in Bell Lab`s Murray Hill, NJ, headquarters we have installed a 1.2MW solar panel array as part of our committment to environmental sustainability. 

2. Engage in the network.  The energy network is going to get far more complicated.  It needs to be simple to manage.  Companies such as Alcatel-Lucent are dedicated to making sure, through our communications and data management solution that it becomes more simple to manage.

3. Engage with the consumer.  Get the consumer on our side and understanding the issues involved.  Allow the consumer to be in control, but make it simple for the customer to engage.  As simple as choosing between "economy" and "comfort": just those two parameters will make all the difference to realising energy efficiencies for the consumer.  Alcatel-Lucent and Bell Labs are engaged in just such projects with a number of our customers.  For example we are bringing communications technology to the smart grid allowing customers to make energy choices—in real time, online, from anywhere—empowering them to save energy and money every day. All while helping support their mission-critical operations with uncompromised reliability and security.  Alcatel-Lucent is running more than 80 mission critical networks and smart grid transformations worldwide.  And with our new Bell Labs innovation - advanced analytical techniques and tools, utilities can mine the wealth of information from smart meters, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems and other data to provide the utility with the ability to measure, monitor and control their electricity distribution network in real time with unprecedented levels of detail. 


 Why are you attending EFEF?

Alcatel-Lucent is passionate about the environment.  This comes through in our own products and solutions, but also in our approach to the energy industry itself.  This is a forum in which we can share that passion and our experience in making that work for our utility customers. EFEF will be ideal place to explore innovation and share ideas around the industry on how we can all make a difference to the Future of Energy.
Register now for the conference to see Peter Johnson speak on the Future of Energy - see full conference details at www.EuropeanFutureEnergyForum.com/conference and register now online at www.EuropeanFutureEnergyForum.com/register