Sustainability & Energy Efficiency

Emerging Tech Trends Your Business Should Consider

It can take a long time for a new technology to become mainstream. 

Take the microwave, for example. Invented in 1945, it was originally dubbed the “RadaRange,” cost $5,000 and was the size of a refrigerator. 

However, as the product slowly evolved, the RadaRange was manipulated to be more budget- and countertop-friendly, and voila! The microwave became what we know it to be today. More than 50 years after its inception, the microwave was present in more than 90% of U.S. households by 1997.¹ 

The moral of the story is that while the ‘when’ may be unclear, new technologies and business models will present unique opportunities for industries to evolve. We may not have a crystal ball to analyze future adoption metrics, but technology is moving at a rapid pace and we all must do our due diligence to stay engaged.

In fact, that is the goal of Constellation Technology Ventures (CTV). CTV is the venture-investing organization within Exelon Corporation, Constellation’s parent company, and our goal is to diligently build a portfolio that represents a broad range of development stages and technology types that will benefit our industry and customers now and in the future. 

When we think about technology trends impacting the energy industry in 2018, there are two that come to mind: the electrification of fleet transportation and the commercialization of drone technology. 

Let’s take a closer look at these emerging trends. 

The Electrification of Transportation 

The value that electric vehicles (EVs) offer, such as their ability to reduce environmental impact, meet sustainability goals and reduce total cost of ownership, will be contributing factors that will ultimately alter the landscape of personal and public transportation over the next 20 to 30 years. 

Proterra, a CTV company, has developed a unique solution for EV fleet technology by designing and manufacturing zero-emission electric buses that ultimately reduce fleet operating costs and eliminate dependency on fossil fuels. As we think about our goal of reducing emissions, we have to think collectively. Cities, transportation authorities, colleges and universities, hospitals, utilities and a host of other businesses have invested in electric transit services to meet sustainability goals.   

As a leading energy provider in the United States, Constellation has a responsibility to explore and invest in the electrification of transportation due to its overwhelmingly positive impact on the environment and our customers. 

“What we’re talking about here is creating a self-sustaining system that keeps our environment clean and our population on the move, with healthy transit options,” says Kent Leacock, senior director of public relations and government policy for Proterra. “But this future is only possible in an ecosystem that brings the many needed elements, including utilities and public transit authorities, into symbiotic partnerships.”

With the technology already in place, the primary hurdle to overcome in fleet electrification is mass adoption and education. It will require the standardization of procurement models and ensuring reliability for end users to safely and affordably recharge their vehicles. Read more about the role of utility companies in the adoption of battery-electric buses here. 

Constellation has also invested in ChargePoint, the world’s largest, most open electric vehicle charging network. Learn why your company should consider electric charging for employees and customers.  

The Commercial Value of Drones

The landscape for commercial drone use is evolving at a rapid pace.

According to a 2017 McKinsey analysis, the value of drone activity in the United States rose from $40 million in 2012 to about $1 billion in 2017.² As the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) continues to revise regulations for commercial and recreational drone use, startups and tech companies are focusing on new and inventive applications for drone technology in the commercial space.

One such company that CTV has invested in is PrecisionHawk. Based in Toronto, PrecisionHawk’s technology enables businesses to gather analytics from aerial data to better understand the environment that they’re surveying. The startup sells drone hardware, sensors and analytics packages to customers within the agriculture, construction, energy, insurance and government industries.

In a recent keynote at the InterDrone in Las Vegas, Michael Chasen, CEO of PrecisionHawk, discussed how the company is expanding their expertise to help deploy drone technology and best-in-class market expertise within the energy and utility industries.

“In the last year or so we’ve seen a huge uptick – particularly in the energy and utility space,” said Chasen. “These are companies that want to use data not just to collect aerial imagery, but to better understand how that collected data can enhance their customer service, speed up repair, and most importantly, support safer operations for their employees.” 

The company is raising capital at a rapid rate, having completed a Series D round earlier in 2018 that generated $75 million.

Watch Michael Chasen’s full keynote here.  

About Constellation Technology Ventures (CTV)
Constellation Technology Ventures (CTV) invests in companies representing innovative energy technologies and business models, building a portfolio that represents a broad range of development stages and technology types. CTV catalyzes growth for its portfolio companies by providing equity capital, management expertise and connectivity to the broad and diverse Exelon commercial enterprise. 

References:

1. http://www.businessinsider.com/how-the-microwave-oven-was-invented-by-accident-2015-4 

2. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/capital-projects-and-infrastructure/our-insights/commercial-drones-are-here-the-future-of-unmanned-aerial-systems  

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