To reach any degree of corporate sustainability goals, businesses must rethink their approach to data. Any successful approach will incorporate three core principles: increasing data resolution, making problems bigger, and avoiding IT pitfalls.
NextEra Energy, the world’s largest producer of energy from the wind and sun, recognizes that increasing data resolution was a precursor to many major breakthroughs in human history such as developing heliocentrism and sequencing the human genome, and the 21st century’s decarbonization will be no exception. To achieve the necessary scale of data resolution, paradigms of thought influencing technology advancement and business practice must shatter.
Paradigms, as the sets of rules that help us filter information to make quick decisions, keep society running as it has been running. They’re frequently useful, but when time comes to strategize for lofty goals using technology that doesn’t exist yet with cost curves that currently make no sense, paradigms pose challenge. Doubt in the viability of decarbonization solutions and disbelief that they could be economical reflect these paradigms and the need to leave them behind. Breakthroughs are not only necessary, but possible, and new models of thought will bring them to light.
Along with increased data resolution and broken paradigms, the community of change-makers must remember that strategy doesn’t have to follow the one-bite-at-a-time model encouraged by the old
elephant proverb. Instead, we can adopt the strategy of General Eisenhower during World War II: “If a problem cannot be solved, enlarge it.” Enlarging problems enables them to become more soluble and exposes more levers to pull in pursuit of progress. At NextEra Energy, enlarging the grid resilience problem requires going beyond existing generation, transmission, and distribution systems. Today, we add demand response, building management, distributed generation, electric vehicles and more to the mix to understand all the levers available while building the resilient and sustainable grid of our future.
Finally, we must avoid the common IT pitfall of overcomplication. We must streamline implementations by keeping the goal in mind and avoid work that doesn’t substantially serve the purpose. Leaving messy IT projects behind will help launch us into an efficient and sustainable future.
Tune into this webinar to learn more about NextEra’s future-first approach to data, and to hear about how this approach has worked in different project settings and implementations.