August 18, 2017

The Intelligence in Using Renewable Energy

Posted by Ashiss K Dash (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:40 AM

The Intelligence in Using Renewable Energy

While it is hard to ascertain by when, it is widely acknowledged that fossil fuels are not the future sources to fulfill our energy needs. Renewable energy is emerging as the most reliable alternative for our future, however, despite significant progress in pockets, there are quite a few daunting challenges. Among the leading sources of renewables, solar and wind are dependent on the weather, are unpredictable, and we still need to smoothen the flow of energy from generation to consumption. The advancement in storage technology is promising yet far from where it needs to be. From time to time, generation of renewable energy will fall short of demand and hence it cannot be the reliable source of base load for consumption. The base load continues to shift to fossil fuel-based generation which defeats the purpose to move to renewables in the first place.

One solution is to use demand-side flexibility cleverly, cutting demand for renewable energy when supply is low and bumping it up in times of plenty. This is possible by advanced load control at an equipment and appliance level, such as large air-conditioning units or industrial furnaces to switch off when power generation is low and consume more energy when there is excess supply. Additionally, the owners of this equipment could also be contracted to make their stored energy and battery packs available to the grid when required.

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December 11, 2014

Why a Utilities Game Is Afoot

Posted by Ashiss K Dash (View Profile | View All Posts) at 4:56 AM

Gamification will drive customer engagements in the utilities industry

When the city of Detroit went dark last week, the event was a grim reminder of just how old a lot of America's energy infrastructure is going. Electric cables and transformers that date back to the 19th century only have so much life left in them.

Of course, Detroit like many other cities is going through its own challenges - the beleaguered city has filed for bankruptcy and has trouble finding the funds to keep municipal agencies humming. Yet the prospect of a massive power outage should be a wake-up call to all utilities that are focusing on improving their equipment and customer service. Amidst this, well, dark backdrop I've become a fan - like many utilities executives around the world - of a way to pump life into customer service and engagement and have a lot of fun while doing it. I'm talking about gamification.

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November 4, 2014

How Smart Utilities Are Energizing For Tomorrow

Posted by Ashiss K Dash (View Profile | View All Posts) at 8:28 AM

China is leading the world in Smart Grid investment [Source:]

A few summers back, on a sunny day in Seattle, I met an influential industry analyst to catch up on various issues in the utilities industry. We spoke about how Infosys can best position our clients for success.

As we settled down for this exchange of ideas, he ordered a coffee and I got a chai. We started talking about chai and about India and the variety of chais one can find in India. Then we shifted gears quickly and started discussing our favorite topic from the industry at the time: the Smart Grid.

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August 6, 2014

Consumer-Focused Utilities? You Bet.

Posted by Ashiss K Dash (View Profile | View All Posts) at 4:31 AM

8 Utility Trends for 2014 by Infosys [Source:]

The other day I saw a billboard that read something like this: You book your flights online, so why do you still use your telephone to order take-out food? It's a clever advertisement that challenges digital consumers to give up some of our in-grained, old-economy behavior.

Think about it: It's easier to access an online menu from your favorite corner restaurant and place your order. Everything is done over your smartphone or tablet. There's no fishing around for a paper menu in a kitchen drawer and then using your landline to call in the order. Once you place the order online, you can either pick it up or have the restaurant deliver the food.

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September 16, 2013

Energy Storage Key to Diversification of Supply

Posted by Ashiss K Dash (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:50 AM

Energy Storage for the Age of Renewables: Prof. Dr. Eduard R. Heindl at TEDxStuttgart [Source:]

Remember the major development of the Basel II accords that followed the global economic crisis? Bank governors huddling in a Swiss boardroom came up with a stress test to gauge how much liquidity banks needed to buffer them from another meltdown. Many banks found the test results to be sobering. They worked on stashing away more cash for the proverbial rainy day.

Municipalities up and down America's eastern seaboard continue to face record-breaking temperatures each year - heat waves that strain a utility's ability to provide service. Wouldn't it be great, utilities said, if they had sufficient energy reserves to keep their customers powered up during future heat waves? Unlike the cash reserves of banks, however, storing vast amounts of electricity is easier said than done.

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August 14, 2013

Utilities Business Is No More Business As Usual

Posted by Ashiss K Dash (View Profile | View All Posts) at 12:36 PM

Infosys Plug Load Manager: Monitor and control plug loads in your offices, stores or manufacturing plants.

I predict that in the next 10 years we will see more profound transformation of the energy industry than what the last century has seen since the days of Thomas Edison.

What is already happening is that consumers are no longer willing to pay their utility bills without a good idea where their dollars go. Energy isn't cheap, and consumers are cost-conscious in this economy. They want their utilities to be more transparent and to communicate with them not unlike the way giant retailers do. Are utilities becoming more aware of how they brand and market themselves? Yes. It's already happening.

Plus, these venerable companies are increasingly looking at themselves as service providers that must be responsive to their customers' demands, especially as those demands involve value. It's a sea change, all right. For the better part of a century, utilities were solely commodity providers. They sent their meter readers out and collected bills. Now companies like FPL, SCE and PG&E are engaging consumers extensively with social media tools. The trend seems to be catching on

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August 2, 2013

Batten Down the Hatches

Posted by Ashiss K Dash (View Profile | View All Posts) at 11:39 AM

Outreach Efforts to Create A Stronger, More Resilient New York [Source:mayorbloomberg] 

When it comes to dealing with the effects of climate change, an ounce of prevention could be worth a pound of cure. At least that's what government officials are saying as they request enormous infusion of cash to gird municipalities against super-storms of the future.

Even the best meteorologists can't say for certain how slight changes in planetary temperature will affect oceans and weather currents over the next few decades. So, deciding how much to spend on so-called resiliency measures amounts to a profound leadership conundrum. An interesting example is New York City's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who is different from many politicians in that before coming to government service, he was a businessman - and a very successful one at that. You might say that he understands the importance of return on investment very well.

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March 11, 2013

How Your Community Can Help Your Business Succeed

Posted by Ashiss K Dash (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:04 AM

I'm in the power business. It's my job to make sure energy companies around the world transform themselves into modern organizations.

From my office in Los Angeles, I work with utilities around the world that are in various stages of development. In India, for example, they're dealing with a population boom where a sizeable chunk of the country is entering the middle class. That crowd wants electricity to power air conditioners, computers, and kitchen appliances. India's challenge is to build power plants fast enough to keep up with demand. In the United States, it's a different story. Mass expansion of the electric network happened more than 100 years ago. The challenge for American Utilities is to update much of that aging infrastructure.

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March 4, 2013

Power Grids Fueled by Innovation

Posted by Ashiss K Dash (View Profile | View All Posts) at 4:45 AM


I watched a show recently about how India is making efforts to build out its power grid to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population. What drew me in to this spot on the NewsHour television program was the anecdote told by Rajdeep Sardesai, one of the country's prominent news presenters.

He told the NewsHour reporter about what he was doing last year when India suffered another massive blackout: He was lunching with one of the nation's top government officials in charge of energy. When the official received news of the blackout, which affected half of India, the man simply continued enjoying his meal. Sardesai was amazed that the crisis left the official literally unfazed. "That in itself epitomized for me that it wasn't being treated as some kind of a national emergency, but another day in the office," he said.

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