As we venture further from the industrial age of mass production and manual labor into the information age of electronic and automation systems, we see a dramatic shift in nearly every industry. This is especially true in the electrical industry, and the way we develop infrastructure, design cities, and consume energy will be almost unrecognizable.  

Technology has paved the way and is continually shaping and shifting markets and economies. Here are some of the top trends for 2020 in the electrical industry that will develop and drive us into the upcoming decade.

Energy Storage – 

A significant and essential trend this year is energy storage. Those who work in energy space believe it’s a critical component to improve and evolve the integrity of the grid. Consumers want more control over their energy, but the current system doesn’t allow for this type of movement on a mass scale. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has already implemented a “Pay-for-Performance” pricing structure to incentivize energy storage technologies development. This is one of the main ways that the U.S. energy grid will bring stability, and it has the potential to become a cost-efficient solution on a commercial scale. 

Increasing Energy Demand – 

Energy demand is expected to rise by 57% in 2050, and it has already grown more than 25% within the last decade. Embracing emerging technologies coming into the market seems to be the best way to address concerns of expanding energy demands. Technology like Distributed Energy Resources (DERS) for better energy storage and more accessible energy options will be a significant factor in optimizing energy consumption in the years to come. 

Renewable Energy – 

The EIA forecasts a 15% growth rate in 2020, which is the fastest rate in four years. The adoption of renewable energy is also increasing as consumer interest leads the charge for eco-friendly considerations based on emerging technology alternatives. By 2021, wind and solar are expected to grow by more than 17%, when coupled with more efficient energy storage options, it will lead the way for a larger energy source as the industry shifts towards grid parity. 

Grid Parity –

Grid parity is the next stage for all utility companies in the U.S. Grid parity happens when an alternative energy source like solar can generate power lower or equal to the price of a traditional energy source – say fossil fuels. Led by the interests of consumers wanting to have sustainable energy, companies that adopt with supplying the renewable energy market can capitalize on this widespread interest if implemented quickly.

Smart Cities –

Over 35% of mid-sized cities in the U.S. surveyed are already implementing smart city projects. Many electrical companies offer utilities that are already connected through homes and businesses, which can be used to detect water leaks, integrated air quality sensors, power smart streetlight systems, and so much more. Utility companies can also automate their operations and install backup power sources, battery storage options, and microgrids to prevent outages. However, these are only the first stages of smart cities. In the upcoming decades, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine smart streetlights that talk with your home devices to give you traffic updates, solar panel roads that charge nearby businesses and possibly your car. 

IoT & 5G – 

Undoubtedly, these two advances in technology will dramatically shape the landscape, not only in terms of energy but also in almost every other space that technology touches. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a blanket term used to refer to every device that is or will be connected to the internet. 4G has been the primary way data has been communicated; however, 5G will have 10X data transmission capacity of 4G. 4G will only accelerate IoT capability. As IoT increases in popularity, more connected devices will become typical and electrical contractors will begin encountering more of them. Electricians who become familiar with IoT devices could open themselves up to new job opportunities. 

Read about more trends emerging in 2020 within the electrical industry here

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