Combining electricity supply with modern computer and communications technology to create an 'intelligent grid' will be a key focus of the utility industry in 2011.
Telecommunication service providers will evolve to support new business models and the renewable energy sector will see fresh investments under more stringent policy guidelines.
These are some of the latest predictions from IDC Energy Insights in a new report entitled 'Asia/Pacific Utility Industry 2011 Top 10 Predictions'. IDC Energy Insights provides research-based advisory and consulting services focused on market and technology developments in the energy and utility industries.
The research firm predicts that Asia Pacific IT services will experience significant growth in 2011, with a projected 2010-2014 compound annual growth rate of 6.3 per cent.
The report maintains that increased attention to security of information, and improved distribution management and network automation, will drive the utilities industry to spend a major portion of their IT budget on developing and testing applications. This budget will be particularly spent on managing network infrastructure and storage systems, as well as to create capabilities for customer information management, business intelligence and analytics.
China and India will be important in shaping up the utility ecosystem and business models, and the report also highlights trends in plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charging infrastructure.
IDC Energy Insights Asia Pacific vice president, energy and utilities research, Debashis Tarafdar, said 2011 will be a year of "cautious optimism".
"The Asia Pacific utility industry will be driven by a stronger focus on quality, security and reliability of services," Tarafdar said.
"With greater demand and positive business sentiments returning, the industry will start investing in forward-looking initiatives that increase customer focus as well as improve business and IT alignment. Investments will also be made on customer-centric business models, intelligent grid technologies, and initiatives that promote energy efficiency and sustainability."
The report stated that "profit growth, quality of service, efficiency and sustainability issues will drive the industry to adopt technologies that enable it to become more proactive to demand signals. In 2011, intelligent grid initiatives will be more than just technology test-beds; scalability and commercial viability will be key to its success."
Telcos and network traffic
Telecommunication service providers will, according to the report, be strong contenders for managing network traffic and providing value-added services to multiple stakeholders. This seems likely with the explosion and complexity of data from intelligent grid systems, testing of efficient communication systems like long-term evolution (LTE) and worldwide interoperability for microwave access (Wimax).
IDC Energy Insights believes the "renewable energy sector will see fresh investments under more stringent policy guidelines".
"With key countries in the Asia Pacific setting targets for the contribution of renewable energy towards total energy generation by 2020, there will be a stronger focus on developing solar wind and biomass projects," the report states.
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