April 2008
Interview
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Babel Buster Network Gateways: Big Features. Small Price.
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Denis Du BoisAnto Budiardjo

EMAIL INTERVIEW  Denis Du Bois & Anto Budiardjo

Denis Du Bois is the "rational evangelist" for sustainable business, Editor of Energy Priorities Magazine.  Denis lives and works in the Seattle area.

Energy is the theme of the upcoming ConnectivityWeek conference -- specifically the energy we use in buildings, and how we can leverage things like renewables, distributed energy, demand response, and information to help solve energy-related problems.

I've been attending Connectivity Week for the past few years. It's been interesting to watch it define the space where building systems and information technology converge to make green buildings greener.

Never has the focus on energy been as sharp at ConnectivityWeek as it will be at the 2008 conference, starting May 20th in Santa Clara, California. The conference organizer is predicting that an "energy revolution" will force radical changes in the way buildings are designed and built. Anto Budiardjo's visions for this industry thus far have been quite far-sighted and accurate. I interviewed Anto to learn more about the energy revolution he predicts.

A podcast of this interview is available at Energy Priorities.
http://energypriorities.com/entries/2008/03/cw08_anto_interview.php


ConnectivityWeek - 2008

“Empowering the Energy Revolution”
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Denis Du Bois:  I was at ConnectivityWeek 2007 in Chicago, and the participants there were very engaged in the theme which was Buildings 2.0. It’s almost time for ConnectivityWeek 2008. What’s the theme this year?

Anto Budiardjo:  The theme this year revolves around the whole concept of energy and what we are calling the Energy Revolution. It’s really the relevance of IT and connectivity in the future of energy in buildings and in other areas where energy is consumed, which is pretty much everywhere. 

Our theme tagline is “Empowering the Energy Revolution”, which is what we think is happening in the next few years.

Denis Du Bois: Take us a few layers deeper into that theme. What exactly do you mean by Energy Revolution?

Anto Budiardjo:  We’re all aware of the climate change issue and the move towards green, sustainable energy, and this is going to mean that the world in the next five, ten years, or longer, will start to move away from fossil-based energy into renewable energy, and this we feel very strongly that it’s going to change the way we look at energy. It’s going to change how we generate energy, how we transmit, transport and use energy, and that will actually change the very fabric of a lot of things that we take for granted these days in terms of how we use energy.

If you look around us--to light bulbs and to cars and to buildings--in many ways these are things that are going to change over the next few decades—very similar in terms of significance of change to, let’s say, the Industrial Revolution that happened in the 18th and 19th centuries.

If you compared the life before the industrial revolution, or the world before the Industrial Revolution and after, it was very, very different. Similarly, compare the world before electricity was invented and used as a mass form of energy to the world after electricity was invented (and the internal combustion engine). It was very different.

I think the world between now and the world in ten, twenty years where we’re all based on renewable energy will be very, very different. That’s really the whole notion of an “Energy Revolution”.

Denis Du Bois: What role do you see building automation and home automation playing in this revolution?

Anto Budiardjo:  The role is really very similar to the impact of the role of information technology has occurred in the world in other areas. We’ve seen in the last couple of decades how information technology and connectivity, and computing and high-tech generally, has changed the way businesses work; it’s changed the way we look at, consume, distribute, and generate entertainment, music, video, etc. And, we see that’s also going to apply to this energy revolution, that IT will have a very significant role in how the energy revolution will start to unfold over the next few years.

Denis Du Bois: And that’s where connectivity comes in?

Anto Budiardjo:  Yes. If you can imagine the world in the future where all the components of the energy chain, as it were, from generation—whether that’s central generation such as a big, coal plant, whether it’s nuclear or some other hydro plant—all the way to the distribution of electricity, all the way to the metering of electricity, and into the consuming devices—whether it’s a commercial building or a residential building. If you can image all of those components being “smart” and being able to be aware of each other so that, for example, when a clothes dryer is switched on, the clothes dryer would be aware of the state of the energy supply so that if the energy supply is low, then the device would not automatically switch on, or just delay itself for two hours, for example. That kind of scencario requires that all of the devices along the chain of energy are aware of each other.

Reliable Controls Denis Du Bois: What do you see as the driving forces that will make all of these changes come together?

Anto Budiardjo:  I think with everything else one has to look at how this is going to change business, how this is going to enable new business models, and new innovation, new technology to be created so that businesses can get behind this movement and this trend.  and so in that sort of area we’re looking at how the economy of a new energy revolution is going to enable innovation, and what kind of innovation, or what kind of application, what is the killer app that will actually drive some of these things forward. So that’s what we’re focusing on at ConnectivityWeek this year. Although the core subject is technology, specifically connectivity technology, the mood, as it were, is really what are the changes, what are the business drivers that are actually  going to take us to the next phase of smart buildings, or smart homes, or smart energy.

Denis Du Bois: Last year demand response was highlighted as the killer app; part of the solution to the energy problem.

Anto Budiardjo:  Yes, and this year as part of ConnectivityWeek we are doing the DR-Expo which is an event we started last October, so we’re doing the second edition of DR-Expo as part of ConnectivityWeek. We feel DR has enormous potential, especially in the short term. This is driven purely by the need for utilities and energy supply companies to curtail the demands, especially at peak periods, and Demand Response goes straight to the heart of that. It has huge potential benefits for all players, all the stakeholders in this picture—from the consumer that can actually get financial benefits, significant financial benefits from curtailing their energy when energy is very expensive, to the utilities that really have enormous problems trying to generate enough electricity for the increasing demands we are now seeing, to society in general, and the whole green movement, in terms of not just giving in to the utilities building vast amounts of dirty coal or other fossil-based power plants to meet these peak demands. Demand Response is a very key application and that would, in the long term, get to be a lot more sophisticated. Demand Response will evolve effectively into real time pricing where we’re not just talking about the peak, but we’re talking about aligning the supply and demand of electricity.

Denis Du Bois: ConnectivityWeek 2008 will be in Santa Clara, California. Why Silicon Valley?

Anto Budiardjo:  We see that this whole discussion about the future of energy and what we call the Energy Revolution centered around IT, as I mentioned before. And as such, we feel that it’s imperative for us to bring this discussion to the high-tech community, and the high-tech community really lives and breathes in the Silicon Valley and the bay area. So we felt it was very appropriate that we bring the event to Santa Clara; there’s conference venue slap-bang in the middle of all this technology and innovation.

Technology and innovation and venture and investment is another aspect of all of this. We see in the next few years significant amount of innovation that’s going to come out of the high-tech industry to enable us to use connectivity in the future of energy, and we see a lot of buzz and desire for the people in the Silicon Valley area to figure out and to explore how to invest and how to innovate in these areas. That’s another reason why we think it’s a very appropriate venue for this year’s event.

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