Each year, utilities are faced with new challenges. As we head into 2018, there is no shortage of problems that will take a toll on the sustainability efforts of our utilities. Here are six trends that utilities need to watch out for in 2018:

  • Climate change
  • Electric cars
  • Local organic farming
  • Push for clean energy
  • Automation

Let’s take a look at how utilities will be impacted by these growing trends.

Climate change

2017 has been a year of hot debate when it comes to climate change. However, a report was recently released by the Trump administration which points the finger at humans for the disastrous effects caused by climate change. According to the same report, we are experiencing extreme events as the result of climate change. These events include:

  • A significant rise in sea levels
  • Long periods of heavy rainfall
  • Extreme heat waves
  • Increased incidence of forest fires
  • Longer periods of drought
  • Rising atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide

Our utilities will experience more strains as we see these extreme events take place. There will be increased demands on our water utilities to develop sustainable practices for times of heavy drought and flooding. In addition, utilities will need to prepare for service in these conditions.

Electric cars

The trend toward electric cars will require that our utilities prepare the necessary infrastructure to support charging. However, this could be a huge benefit for electric utilities. According to a year-long study completed in Europe, electric cars could actually be used to supply the electric grid with power.

Despite this obvious advantage, electric utilities need to provision the grid for a spike in consumption. According to Forbes, a single charge for an electric car draws as much power at the average fridge does in a month and a half. Needless to say, electric utilities will need to prepare for the increase in demand.

Local and organic farming

One repeated recommendation for improving conditions related to climate change involves taking part in local and organic farming practices. By consuming from local farms, especially ones committed to organic farming methods, you decrease the carbon footprint associated with transporting food long distances and reduce the damage done to the environment by harmful chemicals and pesticides. This trend is sure to catch some traction in 2018.

Push for clean energy

Despite Trump’s push for a renewal of coal energy, it seems obvious that coal will not continue as the leading provider in energy. According to CNBC, many utilities will not continue to build facilities that rely on coal. As renewable energy supplies, such as solar and wind, become more efficient and affordable, utilities will begin to integrate the necessary infrastructure to support clean energy and we will see an even stronger push in 2018 and our utilities will need to be prepared for spikes related to the rise in consumption.

Automation

Automation continues to be a growing area when it comes to our utilities. From the integration of robotics and drones for dangerous tasks and using software such as SCADA to increase conservation efforts, automation will continue to surge forward as we head into 2018. With increased automation, utilities will only improve the services they offer. As an added bonus, automation will help reduce the dangers to personnel and contribute to long-term sustainability.

Only time will tell exactly how our utilities handle these situations, but we can only hope to see positive improvements.

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