Disruptive technology to play key role in changing UK energy sector
Law firm Addleshaw Goddard has reported that disruptive technology will be a key factor of the energy sector in Britain over the coming years.
The report, entitled Disruption in Great Britain’s Energy Market, cites two other factors as the carbon agenda and increased customer engagement.
It states that while $107bn (£82bn) was invested in renewable generation assets between 2013 and 2017, there has also been a surge in spending on new technology.
The ‘energy trilemma’ – affordability, safety and security – can be dealt with by the growth of renewables as well as improved electric vehicle infrastructure, demand-driven smart meters and blockchain, which contribute to the move toward a decentralised energy system.
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However, increased renewable use will also present challenges, says Addleshaw Goddard, since while sources like wind and solar are stable, they can also be intermittent and less reliable.
Paul Dight, energy partner at Addleshaw Goddard, said: “The government faces a significant challenge in creating a dynamic energy market that can successfully move the country away from a top-down centralised system and fully accommodate the spectrum of green and disruptive technologies into the energy generation mix… If this is going to be achieved, innovative disruptors in the market have a key role to play.
“In much the same way technology and innovation has had a transformative effect on sectors such as retail, so it can have a similar effect in the energy sector. Indeed, it must do if we are to tackle the trilemma of providing the affordable, secure and sustainable energy generation the country needs.”
Speaking exclusively to Energy Digital, Dight added: “Disruption in the energy industry is happening at many levels, and the huge increase in renewables over recent years, innovations in technology and consumers taking a much more active interest, are going to have a huge impact on the sector.
“It’s a landscape that is shifting continually and the goal posts can change very quickly. Even milestones we believe to be set, such as the government’s commitment to ban petrol and diesel cars by 2040, can prove to be indefinite.
“Yesterday, parliament’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee called for the ban to be brought forward eight years to 2032 – and for investment into the infrastructure needed to incorporate the widespread use of electric vehicles to be prioritised. It’s seismic changes such as this that provide huge opportunities and challenges for everyone in the sector.
“It was great to see the Low Carbon Contracts Company confirm earlier today that almost all of the projects awarded contracts for difference in the second CfD allocation round have passed their first milestone. And whilst this is great news for Great Britain as we continue to build our low carbon future, this means there will be more intermittent renewable generation within the power mix, which will further disrupt the sector.
“As we look ahead, one of the most interesting developments to monitor in the sector will be how established suppliers respond to the gauntlet thrown down by challenger suppliers embracing smart disruptive technology. To retain their market share, traditional suppliers will need to innovate much more, investing in technology that shifts the way suppliers engage with customers – putting them at the heart of what they do.”
How AWS helps NASCAR delight its fans
AWS needs no introduction to readers of Technology Magazine but we rarely get an opportunity to look closely at how it serves the sports sector. All major sports draw in a huge supporter base that they want to nurture and support. Technology is the key to every major sports organization and enabling this is the driving force for AWS, says Matt Hurst, Head of Global Sports Marketing and Communications for AWS. “In sports, as in every industry, machine learning and artificial intelligence and high performance computing are helping to usher in the next wave of technical sports innovation.”
AWS approaches sports in three principal areas. “The first is unlocking data’s potential: leagues and teams hold vast amounts of data and AWS is enabling them to analyze that data at scale and make better, more informed decisions. The second is engaging and delighting fans: with AWS fans are getting deeper insights through visually compelling on-screen graphics and interactive Second Screen experiences. And the third is rapidly improving sports performance: leagues and teams are using AWS to innovate like never before.”
Among the many global brands that partner with AWS are Germany's Bundesliga, the NFL, F1, the NHL, the PGA Tour and of course NASCAR. NASCAR has worked with AWS on its digital transformation (migrating it's 18 petabyte video archive containing 70 years of historical footage to AWS), to optimize its cloud data center operations and to enable its global brand expansion. AWS Media Services powers the NASCAR Drive mobile app, delivering broadcast-quality content for more than 80 million fans worldwide. The platform, including AWS Elemental MediaLive and AWS Elemental MediaStore, helps NASCAR provide fans instant access to the driver’s view of the race track during races, augmented by audio and a continually updated leaderboard. “And NASCAR will use our flagship machine learning service Amazon SageMaker to train deep learning models to enhance metadata and video analytics.”
Using AWS artificial intelligence and machine learning, NASCAR aims to deliver even more fan experiences that they'd never have anticipated. “Just imagine a race between Dale Earnhardt Sr and Dale Jr at Talladega! There's a bright future, and we're looking forward to working with NASCAR, helping them tap into AWS technology to continue to digitally transform, innovate and create even more fan experiences.”
Just as AWS is helping NASCAR bridge that historical gap between the legacy architecture and new technology, more customers are using AWS for machine learning than any other provider. As an example, who would have thought five years ago that NFL would be using ML to predict and prevent injury to its players? Since 2017, the league has utilized AWS as its official cloud and ML provider for the NFL Next Gen Stats (NGS) platform, which provides real-time location data, speed, and acceleration for every player during every play on every inch of the field. “One of the most potentially revolutionary components of the NFL-AWS partnership,” says Matt Hurst, “is the development of the 'Digital Athlete,' a computer simulation model that can be used to replicate infinite scenarios within the game environment—including variations by position and environmental factors, emphasizing the league's commitment to player safety.”