At a recent meeting that brought together utilities executives from around the world with Silicon Valley energy innovators, attendees were discussing, among other topics, the state of energy storage. One utility executive asked the Silicon Valley hosts when they expected to see utility-scale storage deployed broadly. “Oh, not for a long time,” one of the new energy executives replied, “maybe 2019.”

For the stunned utility executives, most of whom think of a “long time” as decades, the remark was a wake-up call to the pace at which new ideas and technologies are disrupting their industry. Today, most of the electricity sector lags behind the progress that other sectors have made in digitalization, customer engagement and the everyday use of advanced analytics to generate value from data. But change is beginning to unfold quickly, and it’s now clear that the sector will look dramatically different in a decade or so.

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