DistribuTECH, the leading annual electric power transmission and distribution conference, and exhibition event – is back after the pandemic. The floor and the showrooms were full of people and exhibitors representing all different technologies within electricity, power plants, transmission, and distribution. Here are some of the news.
About 400 utilities attended in Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, TX. DistribuTECH 2022 kicked off with a keynote that included talks from the 14th Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry as well as the current Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm.
Energy storage, EVs, and discussions on how to support the new energy paradigm
On a leadership level, hot topics included supporting the new energy paradigm and utility communication infrastructure for mission-critical private networks. Here, was also a discussion about DC’s standpoint on decarbonization.
Other hot topics this year have been energy storage, EVs, and microgrids. Especially EVs and electrification is a huge topic as utilities seek to plan and strategize, but also is trying to understand how to manage a grid that delivers electricity, not just to homes and businesses but to vehicles as well.
One of the exhibitors at this year’s show was Utility Broadband Alliance (UBBA). UBBA is a not-for-profit professional association that brings together utilities and ecosystem partners dedicated to championing the advancement and development of private broadband networks for America’s critical infrastructure industries.
“Having a UBBA booth at D’tech for the first time was a big step for us, and we were thrilled with the huge response to UBBA’s message and mission,” said Bobbi Harris, Executive Director of UBBA. “Clearly there is a lot of interest in the evolution of utility LTE networks and devices, and UBBA is the place utilities can turn for answers. We are already planning for Distributech 2023!”
Anterix Inc. provides wireless communications applications and is also the largest holder of licensed spectrum in the 900 MHz band (896-901/935-940 MHz) throughout the contiguous United States, plus Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico. The company came to DistribuTECH 2022 with a newly launched Platform to drive industrywide 900 MHz private broadband innovation and solutions. The platform will also offer a development and innovation environment for the more than seventy-five leading technology companies in the Anterix Active Ecosystem to drive 900 MHz products and services directly to utility network operators.
The process of clean energy transition will continue in 2022
Michael Brozek works as Strategic Industry Advisor at Anterix and is also a Utility Broadband Alliance (UBBA) member. We asked him about his impressions of the fair.
“It has been a joy to see these full floors after the pandemic, and I am so happy to be back in person,” he said. “So far, I must say that I have seen an enormous variety of solutions within as well traditional utility, as software and engineering services. It is also interesting to see Ernst & Young, as well as Accenture, being such big contributors here, which in my mind, enhances the message that the utility business is big business. I also would like to say that I am amazed by what is going on with electric vehicles. We are about to witness an enormous change in that area, and it will certainly change so many areas in our society. What EVs really need in this country now is a standard for the charging cords.”
Private broadband, Cybersecurity, and a merge of the physical and virtual world are some of the trends
Mar Tarres, Vice President of Products at 900 MHz provider Anterix, came to DistribuTECH 2022 with the launch of a new integrated platform to drive industrywide 900 MHz private broadband innovation and solutions. With the new platform, Anterix wants to accelerate the scale benefits of a “network” of individual private broadband networks.
The cloud-based 4G/5G core also aims to enable greater resilience and enhanced services between participating networks, including mutual aid, cybersecurity, shared infrastructure, and integration of distributed energy sources.
“This transition to a broader suite of solutions is in response to our customers’ needs and is based on the premise that we all are stronger together,” she explained. Mar was thrilled to be back with the crowd at DistribuTECH. After two long years, she experienced an incredible excitement and buzz after interacting virtually for so long. “The show has been well attended both by customers and the ecosystem. Smart grid vendors have come back strong on the show floor with an interesting display of new technologies,” she said.
When asked about this year’s trends, she said:
“First trend – private broadband is front and center in discussions. Utilities and smart grid vendors alike agree on the strategic value of private LTE as a key element of critical grid infrastructure.
Second trend – Cybersecurity – Covid and the war in Ukraine have made cybersecurity even more critical than ever before. There is no discussion where cybersecurity is not at the center. A lot of focus is on cybersecurity solutions for the distribution grid.
The third trend – Merging of the physical and digital world leveraging state of the art technologies such as AI.”
DistribuTECH 2022 attracted more than 12,000 visitors for a summit that was full of optimism and explored all new ideas for a digital future. The whole fair was characterized by positive energy and a belief in technology as an enabler when it comes to solving future problems and challenges. No doubt, the industry related to electric power transmission and distribution will continue and accelerate the march to a cleaner, more reliable, and resilient grid. Here, government decisions and digital technologies will play an important role in paving the way. Even if costs currently are rising, spending, and investing will remain high. The process of clean energy transition will continue in 2022.