On a recent Monday evening, Danny Kennedy, the director of the California Clean Energy Fund, stood in front of a crowd of dozens of energy industry insiders in Dubai.
“Steve Jobs used to say you should cannibalize yourself every couple of years or someone will come eat your lunch,” he said. “Seems like the utilities in the room have started to invite the cannibals to the crowd.”
The utilities he referred to are major utility companies from all around the world that, despite deep-pockets and massive customer bases, have been slow to adopt to an energy economy that is quickly evolving toward renewable resources like wind and solar power. Moreover, those same utilities are finding themselves eclipsed by startups that are quick to experiment with new technologies that can more efficiently harness the power of renewables and while engaging with those customer bases.