Not in power generation technology, nor end-use energy efficiency – at the moment energy system innovation is focused at the interface between energy supplies and users, where smart grids, demand-site response (DSR) and new commercial arrangements are being developed and trialled.

Hence a European company called Reactive Technologies has won Frost & Sullivan’s 2017 Global Company of the Year award for its efforts to deliver ‘smart’ benefits to grid operators and energy users alike. Reactive is facilitating the transition to a low carbon future through the implementation of ‘cutting edge’ communications technologies.

As F&S explains, the shift to a greener and decentralized energy mix is causing challenges for grid operators due to intermittent generation failing to contribute to grid stability. Energy systems are becoming more volatile, making cost-effective grid operation increasingly challenging.

Reactive says its approach is to implement technologies previously used in telecoms for the first time in the energy sector to solve challenges and simultaneously benefit all system participants. Its technology is set to positively disrupt the way end customers interact with their energy supplier, and the way grid operators manage their systems.

For grid operators and users, Reactive says its DSR and integrated energy management platform allows grid operators to remotely optimize energy consumption of individual electrical assets, such as HVAC, lighting, storage, refrigeration. Also for grid operators, the company’s technology also aims to deliver system data insights to aid investment decisions.

Having said all this, innovation also continues apace with the uptake of on-site renewable energy technologies. In the last month, New York State’s Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has completed its first community solar project, a 99 kW scheme to supply tenants of a solar technology park. And NYSERDA and National Grid have announced demonstration projects to provide heating and cooling from ground source heat pumps to 35 residential communities in Long Island. Meanwhile in Germany, E.ON has bought a stake in a business which enables businesses to generate their own wind power with on-site turbines.

Communications between the generator and user loads will be important here too.