Many are looking to the mobile phone industry for a model in which energy will be purchased, sold, created, stored and traded in the future. For this to occur we need a significant shift in thinking by the utility industries and regulatory bodies.
The utilities have proven quite challenging in giving up their “rights” to own energy distribution and sales in many territories. In Quebec, we have our long-standing “national jewel”, Hydro Quebec, which is essentially a monopoly over about 90% of the territory with a few municipal utilities here and there. This entity has steadfastly refused to let go of control, to promote distributed power or to have anyone else involved in energy sales. In Florida, the utility has gone so far as to successfully lobby to have it made illegal to off the grid. So we see the challenge in moving the bar when many entrenched positions refuse to budge.
We will therefore have to look to areas where energy is a challenge to be the innovators in this arena. Energy needs to become a currency just like air time. Where we use it is up to us, without boundaries its movable from our home to our cottage to our car charging. One account for family to buy more “energy time”. The ability to get discounts for buying future power and the option to sell some to friends or family as easily as that.
With the advent of electric vehicles, these “batteries on wheels” could provide yet even more sharing opportunities. Imagine driving up to your friend’s party, plugging your car in and providing energy for the evening? Or somewhere out in a campground for an evening cook-out. Then you drive to the nearest charging station for more juice and back.
It is not hard to conceive these concepts, yet the question is where will we see likely the most progress in their implementation. Somehow I get the feeling that companies like Tesla will be involved, because they have the vested interest of using their battery production capacity for more than simply moving people.
Stay tuned, we are in a phase where once EVs reach a tipping point, and when car makers are forced to change their biz models, you will start to see encroachment into the energy field from many sides. Exciting to say the least…