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The next phase of the world of energy involves massive connectivity, highly intelligent self-correcting technology, the rapid advancement of energy science, personal energy micrograms and other transformative trends -- Jim Carroll

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Jim was the recent featured keynote speaker, opening the Accenture International Utilities and Energy Conference, with attendees from major utilities and energy companies from 37 countries. Other events include • Sandia National Laboratories • Black & Veitch International Utilities & Energy Conference • Southwest Gas Association • Allette • National Rural Electrical Cooperative • Midwest ISO Operators • Siemens XHQ • Enercom 2012 • BOMEX (Building Owner and Managers Association • Trane Ingersoll Rand • .

Recent Posts in the Energy & Infrastructure category



This September, I’ll headline what must be the longest running conference in the energy industry – let alone the event industry.

I’ll focus on the themes found in my energy keynote topic, “Accelerating Energy: Why Science & Technology Are Accelerating the Future Faster Than You Think!”

I put together this promotional event video for them, and recycled another one previously done.

For more insight on these rends, watch this one:

My clients are in love with these promotional event videos … learn how you can arrange for one.

Siemens has booked me to headline a major energy conference in Houston in May.

So I did a little video about what to expect. Give it a watch. We are going to see more change to the global utility/energy industry in the next 5 years, than we have seen in the next 100!

Despite the fact that I’m a futurist with a relentless focus on innovative thinking, I’m probably as guilty as the next person in making quick  judgement on people and companies – particularly with respect to the scope of what they do today compared to yesterday.

So it was when I saw that a company named Lewis Tree Services wrote a blog post about my recent keynote for the annual National Rural Electrical Cooperative Technology Show in Nashville. Read their post here; you’ll also find it below.

Hmm, I thought – what is a tree company doing at an energy conference, and why would they blog about my keynote with an observation on the future of that industry? After all, what do these people do – trim and cut trees?

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Next month, I’ll keynote the National Rural Electrical Cooperative Technology conference. It’s an unprecedented 5th repeat booking by this organization.

The energy industry is in the midst of fast hyper-disruption.

Here’s a quick little video that I put together for them to outline some of what I’ll cover.

 

 

I was recently invited in to keynote the annual SAP Utilities conference in Southern California, and had a room of a few hundred executives from the energy, utility, water and wastewater sector.

Here’s a clip where I spoke about the acceleration of everything having to do with battery technology. I think its one of the most fascinating yet not fully appreciated sectors in our world of disruption – with an impact on everything from energy to transportation, consumer devices to medical care, and more.

Learn more in my post: The Future of Just About Everything is in Batteries.

We’re in the era of ‘connected energy,’ and everything is set to change in pretty dramatic fashion.

That will be the essence of my message when I speak to several hundred energy and water utility executives when I keynote the annual SAP Utilities conference in Huntington Beach, California. It’s great to spend some time with SAP again — I did about a dozen keynotes for them from 2003 to 2007, back in my “What I Learned From Frogs In Texas” days!


The session description reads:

“The future belongs to those who are fast! That’s the mantra of futurist Jim Carroll — and no where has this become a reality faster than in the world of utilities. There is no doubt that the next phase of the world of energy involves the convergence of a variety of trends, each of which is significant on their own, but combined, provide an opportunity for massive disruption — and opportunity. The era of massive hyper-connectivity at an industrial, commercial and residential level as a result of the acceleration of the Internet of things. The rapid advancement of energy science, particularly with battery storage, alternative energy sources and other leading edge technologies. Business model disruption through the fast arrival of technologies that support personal and local energy energy microgrids through backyard wind, solar, biomass and other forms of energy generation. New demand and infrastructure requirements arising from such significant trends as smart cities, self-driving cars and intelligent highway infrastructure. And then there are simple light poles — which are now becoming ‘fitbits for cities’ with embedded environmental sensors, car-charging technologies, Wi-Fi hotspot capability and traffic management technologies! But wait — there’s more! At M.I.T. they are even in the midst of research as to how to grow solar cells from plants! That’s why no less than the Edison Energy Institute has stated that going forward, ““The threats posed to the electric utility industry from disruptive forces, particularly distributed resources, have serious long-term implications for the traditional electric utility business model and investor opportunities.”

The challenges and opportunity in the energy sector are real, and it’s captured pretty accurately in that summary. Need a hint of what is going on? Simply take a look at what is happening with battery storage technology.

Quite simply, we are in a situation in which a centuries old business model – the centralized production of power, distributed one-way through a relatively unintelligent system — is set to change in so many ways.

I’ve spoken at numerous energy conferences through the years, including the global Accenture Energy & Utilities Industry conference. Just a few months ago, I spoke privately to the nuclear division of one of the countries largest energy utilities, literally with 20 nuclear engineers in the room. And a few years back, I was engaged by the CEO of PG&E to do a video on what happens if grassroots power production and micro-grids lead to the disruption of the industry.

 

Stay tuned: I’m sure I’ll have a lot to post, including an overview of why light poles are a harbinger of what’s to come with our connected future!

Want to understand the future? It’s all about the batteries!

My attention was reminded of this fact last week with an article that appeared on Bloomberg, “Tech Guru Bill Joy Unveils a Battery to Rival Lithium-Ion,” which brought me back to a series of Twitter posts I did a few months back about trends involving batteries.

The thread is worth revisiting, since what is happening with battery technology today will impact dozens of industries into the future! Often, entire industries will be changed and disrupted by the most innocuous of trends.

Obviously, the energy, hi-tech and automotive sectors will be transformed by the acceleration of battery innovation.  But so will other industries, such as healthcare, aerospace, and agriculture. Everywhere I look, I see big changes and opportunities that come from the acceleration of battery science.

With that, I’m pretty convinced that in the future, people will come to realize that one of the most transformative trends of our time had to do with the acceleration of the science of battery technology. To understand why the acceleration of battery science, and innovation around battery concepts is so important, let’s replay the Twitter thread here, with some added commentary.

First off, battery technology is being subjected to the acceleration of basic science, with I have been speaking on stage about for many years. Specifically, the key point being that “we’re going from 19 million known chemical substances today, to 80 million by 2025, and 5 billion by 2100. Any new substance can lead to the emergence of a billion dollar market.”

That’s the acceleration of battery science in a nutshell.

The key concepts accelerating concepts with batteries involve how to improve longevity, weight, and innovate with battery concepts to ride this pace of scientific discovery.  Simply put, there are big opportunities that come from making batteries lighter, that last longer, and which are based on new concepts and scientific ideas, not to mention innovate methods of utilizing them.

Where is the basic science innovation occurring? With drones!

What sparked my original Twitter thread was an article I came across which focused on the unique research occurring with drone batteries. Drones have quickly become a part of many industries, yet have been limited in terms of how long and how far they can fly. The article took a look look at the many new types of batteries – beyond the common lithium-ion batteries – which are under development. If you want to understand what’s really happening with the science of batteries, read the article.

As a futurist, I track dozens of topics in order to keep up with trends, and last month, this article below caught my attention. It’s another example that there is a lot of innovation occurring with different concepts in battery science, another barometer for fast innovation.

And the disruption from batteries? It’s huge in every industry. In the energy sector, for example, it will allow people to store energy from their own backyard energy sources, to be reused later. Then they’ll connect to their neighbours, leading to the emergence of little local energy micro-grids. People will disrupt the utility industry just as they they disrupted the music industry!

Since industries understand that batteries really define their future, the pace of innovation is moving from fast to furious.

And then, while writing may Twitter thread, another article about battery science innovation caught my attention!

And another…. the key thing is, take a look around, and there is just an amazing level of science innovation with battery tech – just as there was with ‘plastics’ in the 1960’s!

Often, to think about the future, you need to stretch your mind well into the future, and think big and bold. Folks are doing that in the battery space:

Add it all up, and something transformative is happening!

I’ve been speaking about the impact of battery science on industries for many ears, including in the energy sector; in 2012, I keynoted a global energy event for Accenture, and spoke about how battery technology was leading to fascinating  concepts — such as a 24 hour solar power plant!

I’ve also written about the topic for many organizations, such as this article I wrote for GE, distributed to their clients worldwide.

Of course, the thing about innovation is this: there are often people who discount the speed of trends which are occurring, or simply can’t conceive of how massive change comes into play.

Back to the fact that it is all about accelerating science. (I repeat myself!)

And so, it’s all about the batteries!

What should you think about next? Maybe penguins!

It is quickly becoming apparent that in 2017, there will be the emergence of two economies: one linked to the whimsical desire for the 1950’s, and the other firmly  set to accelerate to the year 2050.

Case in point: one will involve a desire to return to coal; the other, to solar, alternative energy and accelerating science. One wishes that we can return to the brute force manufacturing methods of 1950 involving bashing metal; the other involves 3d printing, advanced processes and materials, and much more.

Which economy do you want to link yourself to? One will be driven by politics, and will seem pretty ridiculous years from now. The other will be driven by science, and is inevitable.

I don’t know about you, but I’m with science on this one….

Science acclerates and takes us into a faster future. It provides us opportunities that are unprecedented. For example: what if we could grow plants that became  solar panels? What if solar adoption grew as quickly as Facebook did?

Crazy ideas? I don’t think so.

Solar is a barometer for two new economies. I was thinking about that this morning when a Bloomberg article caught my attention: “Solar Could Beat Coal to Become the Cheapest Power on Earth”  That’s a 1950 vs a 2050 economic issue right there!

Consider this key paragraph:

In 2016, countries from Chile to the United Arab Emirates broke records with deals to generate electricity from sunshine for less than 3 cents a kilowatt-hour, half the average global cost of coal power. Now, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Mexico are planning auctions and tenders for this year, aiming to drop prices even further. Taking advantage: Companies such as Italy’s Enel SpA and Dublin’s Mainstream Renewable Power, who gained experienced in Europe and now seek new markets abroad as subsidies dry up at home.

Two really cool statistics stand out from the article:

  • since 2009, solar prices are down 62 percent
  • every time you double capacity, you reduce the price by 20 percent

The trend will start to accelerate further as science accelerates. Science is inviolable. It doesn’t slow down. And solar is science.

The fact is, there is incredible momentum with solar.

Innovation in 2017 will be about linking yourself to 2050….

Here’s a clip where i spoke to the National Rural Electrical Cooperaitve, and am challenging them to think about some of these questions.

Today, the Wall Street Journal ran an article,”Why Saudi Arabia’s Oil Giant Aims to Be Big in Chemicals, Too“, with the subhead: “Aramco’s plans to vastly expand its petrochemical operations are part of the kingdom’s effort to remake its economy as oil’s future clouds.” 

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“Aramco’s strategic goal is to create a global network of refining and petrochemical plants that let Saudi Arabia turn its biggest asset into hundreds of higher-value products crucial to modern life, from chewing gum to auto parts”

Why would one of the world’s largest oil companies shift to a new focus on the chemical industry as their key opportunity? One reason is that the math, and hence the scope of the opportunity, is so overwhelming. (The other being that in a world awash in oil, energy is no longer a growth industry. So after the world gets flat, you put a ripple in it!)

Here’s why: years ago, I dug out a fascinating observation having to do with the world of chemistry. I’ve used this in keynotes for BASF, the American Chemical Society, and many others. Consider the simple math at hand that spells opportunity with a capital ‘O’.

  • “…The number of known chemical substances has been growing exponentially since 1800, from some hundreds then to about 19 million today….”
  • “…. the number constantly doubles every 13 years….”
  • by 2025: 80 million chemical substances
  • by 2050: 300 million
  • and by 2100: 5 billion……

19 billion known chemical substances to 5 billion? That’s a pretty exponential change….

Why is this important? I always point out on stage, when using these stats, that the discovery of a single new chemical substance led to the opportunity for Apple to miniaturize the hard drive — that led to the first iPod.

Which was the birth of a multi-billion market.

For every new chemical substance, similar massive new opportunities exist.

That’s what it means to live in an exponential world! And that is what it means to focus on future opportunities through innovation. Which is precisely what Said Aramco is focused on….

 

 

So … I regularly get approached to speak at a lot of corporate leadership meetings …. and have done so for organizations like Johnson & Johnson, The GAP, Dupont, BASF, Siemens, Lockheed Martin. I frame for them the issue that the future is arriving faster than they think, and offer concise guidance on key trends that they need to align themselves to…..

To help emphasize the issue of the era of acceleration I’ve been using the story of the Jetson’s over the last 5 years while on stage. Remember it? It’s that cartoon show from 1962, purporting to show what the world will look like in 2062. Remember George Jetson? Remember the fact that there were autonomous vehicles, robot assistants, drones, and Skype and FaceTime seemed to be everywhere?

Now consider this! About a month ago, I was approached by Arconic to headline a leadership meeting for them in Phoenix; this is a newly spun-off entity from Alcoa that is focused on advanced technologies. I’ll be the opening kickoff – outlining and reaffirming the trends that will provide massive opportunity in the future.

Great minds think alike! They think the world of the Jetson’s is going to arrive here soon too — and are planning to play a major role in helping to make it happen. So much so, that they engaged Hollywood filmmaker Justin Lin of Star Trek Beyond fame, to do  a live-action re-imagination of the world of “The Jetsons!

 

Give it a watch!

Check their tagline: “Arconic: A Company Where the Future Takes Shape.” And my talk for them? I’m thinking this: “A keynote with the motivation that can help to make it happen!”

Do you need to accelerate your team into the future? Do it now, and read my keynote topic, The Jetson’s Have Arrived Fifty Years Early: What Are You Going to Do About It?

This is all just too much fun — just yesterday, while in Washington, I had some time to kill before a meeting, so I visited the Smithsonian Institution. What did I find, but a Jetsons lunchbox!

jetsonslunchbox

I so want this item….

Learn more about the making of the video

Here I am on stage in front of 2,000 in Chicago on the Jetsons!

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