Amazon CTO Says Surge of Innovation in Smart Energy is in the Pipeline

According to Amazon’s chief technology officer and vice president in charge of driving technology innovation Dr. Werner Vogels, as access to advanced technology becomes even more ubiquitous we will see a torrent of innovation in smart energy in 2023.

Among Vogels’ predictions, he expects will break in 2023 includes rapid development on a global scale that improves the way we produce, store, and consume energy, including energy-storing surface materials, decentralised grids and smart consumption technologies.

The Amazon CTO says while this isn’t the first time that we have faced an energy crisis, several maturing technologies are beginning to converge, and together, they will enable us to address this like never before.

Vogel claims the environment around us produces more than enough renewable energy, but the challenge is actually with storage and on-demand delivery to the systems that need to consume that energy.

Amazon he says is doing work in this space, citing for example, the 150 megawatt battery storage system in Arizona that’s providing clean, reliable energy to his firm’s facilities in that area.

“But we’re not the only ones. Companies across the globe are also quickly innovating in this space. The cloud is enabling materials research science for novel use cases, such as integrating energy storage into the structure of the objects they aim to power. Imagine a shipping vessel where the sides of the ship are actually the batteries that power it on its journey. This is just the tip of the iceberg—no pun intended. We are also starting to see breakthroughs in long-duration storage, like molten salt, stacked blocks, and fuel cells.”

Another area Vogel highlights is the decentralization of energy. “With uncertainty around energy availability, some communities are turning to microgrids. I like to think of microgrids as community gardens (but for energy), where community members use these to sustain themselves, reducing their reliance on traditional energy companies and their aging infrastructure,” he says.

“In my neighborhood, we have a small microgrid, where solar is collected and shared among tenants. As we continue to see energy challenges amplified by geopolitical events and climate fluctuations, microgrids will become a viable solution for many communities around the world, and cloud technologies will play a role in enabling this.”

He predicts that data from solar panels, wind farms, geothermal power, and hydroelectric power will be streamed, stored, monitored, enriched, and analyzed in the cloud. Machine learning will be used to analyze all energy data to predict usage spikes and prevent outages through the redistribution of energy at a household level of granularity.

Vogel adds that we will also see IoT-based smart consumption devices take off across the globe in the coming year. This will lead to the next wave of innovations that arise from the new observability capabilities that these devices provide for homes and businesses alike. Imagine the energy savings we can get by retrofitting historic buildings with energy-saving technologies.

“In the next few years, we will see a rapid convergence of all types of smart energy technologies, as we have finally met the threshold where our technology solutions can address our crisis. While this may not have the immediate impact that we all wish it would, together these technologies will fundamentally and forever change the way that we create, store, and consume energy,” Vogel says.

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