Industry series: Energy and Water Utilities Addressing Sustainability Challenges

December 5, 2023 | 6 minute read
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Energy and water sustainability is a monumental challenge facing our planet. The energy and water industry, as providers of these essential services, are intricately linked to the resolution, with energy decarbonization and water scarcity being at the heart of this sustainability challenge.

25%

…of global emissions come from electric power, the second largest source of emissions.*

2 billion

…people worldwide don’t have access to safe drinking water, with roughly half of the world’s population experiencing severe water scarcity for at least part of the year.**

These days, you only need to read the first few pages of most utilities' annual report to understand that they are aware of and are responding to this challenge.

78% of U.S. consumers are now served by energy utilities with carbon or emissions reduction goals. In addition, a PWC survey revealed that 91% of utilities increased spending on ESG-related initiatives over the past three years, with nearly half saying they’ve increased investments by 25% or more.

At Oracle Energy and Water, we are helping energy and water utilities solve big issues (energy decarbonization and water scarcity) that this industry is facing.

Brattle Study

How is Oracle Energy and Water equipped for this?

Involving customers is key for energy utilities to decarbonize. These customer engagement strategies include energy efficiency, electrification (e.g., electric vehicles) and the willingness of their customers to shift the time of day when they consume energy, otherwise known as demand flexibility.

All of these strategies require the customer to act, whether by reducing energy consumption, decarbonising travel, or opting into a time-of-use rate, which financially encourages use of power in non-peak times.

The importance of customer action was reinforced in a Brattle Group study, commissioned by Oracle Energy and Water. It found that customer actions will reduce greenhouse gas emissions at nearly two times the rate of clean energy supply alone.

 

The key findings of the study included:

Customer actions alone can avoid significant amounts of CO2 being created in the first place!

By 2040, this could be the equivalent of retiring 135 coal plants – more than half of all U.S. coal plants.

Customers can be influenced to adopt EVs at a much faster rate, resulting in significant emission reductions.

By as much as 4x.

Energy efficiency has a key role to play in decarbonization.

For example, converting to highly efficient electric space and water heating.  

When energy is used, is just as important as conserving it.

Shifting consumer consumption patterns away from the peak of the day helps mitigate expensive and carbon-intensive infrastructure upgrades, such as new power generation capacity.

 

With so much relying on the customer, the challenge for utilities quickly becomes how to spur the customer into action. Influencing human behaviours is difficult, which is why utilities turn to Oracle Energy and Water’s Opower solution suite to drive measurable outcomes with personalized information on energy usage, using time-tested behavioral science approaches. Examples of behavioral science messaging include comparing the customer’s consumption with their neighbor or quantifying exactly how much they could save by changing the time of day they charge their electric vehicle. Comparing a customer with their peer group or informing them how they could save their hard-earned money are proven ways to drive action.

Oracle Energy and Water also empower utilities to address energy decarbonization by seamlessly connecting data from sensor devices, distributed energy resources (e.g. solar panels) and smart meters, with market-leading back-of-house capability. This includes asset management, network management, meter-to-cash and customer engagement solutions, that have been designed specifically for the utility industry. These capabilities help utilities improve their sustainability outcomes by:

  • Predicting and adressing water leaks
  • Efficiently managing electricity load on the power grid
  • Driving targeted water conservation and energy efficiency programs based on individual consumption
  • Efficiently routing field workers so that truck carbon emissions are reduced
  • Deploying smarter tariffs that encourage efficient use of water and electricity that accurately reflect the cost-to-serve the community with these essential services.

In summary, the sustainability challenge facing energy and water utilities is indeed large, and with Oracle’s ongoing commitment to serve this essential industry, we aim to provide the needed tools and capabilities to help utilities decarbonize energy sources and preserve and protect our precious water supplies. Take a look at some of the customers we have partnered with.


At Oracle, we celebrate innovators who leverage our solutions towards our better future. If you or an organization you know of is an Oracle Energy and Water customer that is leveraging Oracle solutions to drive change, improve performance while decreasing environmental impact, submit a nomination for the Oracle Energy and Water Customer Edge Awards! Our Energy and Water Awards winners will be recognized at the annual Energy and Water customer conference, EDGE in March 2024.

The deadline to submit a nomination January 6th, 2024! 2024 E&W awards

 Please use the link below to submit a nomination: https://oracle.secure-platform.com/energyandwaterawards

 


For more information on Oracle Energy and Water solutions visit: https://www.oracle.com/utilities

For more information on Oracle’s Sustainability efforts visit: https://www.oracle.com/sustainability/


 

*Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency

** Source: United Nations

 

 

Nick Birrell


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