by Julian Spector
July 03, 2019

When the sun hits San Diego, there’s no place finer. A glowering marine layer kept that sunshine largely at bay during Greentech Media’s recent Grid Edge Innovation Summit, but the energy inside the event helped make up for it.

Discussions of the grid edge have always been more challenging for me as a viewer than events on solar or energy storage. The grid edge tent covers much ground, and finding a throughline to connect microgrids, utility data collection, distribution automation, wildfire safety, virtual power plants and voice-controlled home energy devices can tax an acronym-addled brain.

But this time felt different. The conversations anchored around concrete projects, either in the ground or hitting it soon. The disparate pieces were woven together under a broader theme of utilities leveraging new technology for a more resilient and effective distribution grid of the future.

That feeling of progress, though, coexisted with a contradictory sense of delay. The sector unquestionably has advanced further than ever before, but the arrival of mass-scale grid edge deployments, used to their fullest potential, feels a long way off. It's as if the grid edge has an elastic quality, and the closer you get to it, the more it stretches away from you.