Future energy trends from CES 2016

Although not immediately obvious, this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was not solely a chance for tech companies to unveil their new robots and driverless cars, it also provided the backdrop for some of the biggest and most innovative announcements in the energy space.

We have taken a look at the top three energy trends from CES, these announcements range from initiatives aimed at smartening up our cities and homes, all the way to bringing to life the iPhone battery that ensures battery life for an entire week.

Next year we’re hoping for the hydrogen powered robot!


  1. Hydrogen

It is hardly surprising, considering the year of announcements we have had in relation to hydrogen, that many companies used CES to announce their new hydrogen innovations.

Not one but two companies arrived at the conference with a means to keep people connected to their mobiles for longer. Intelligent Energy exhibited an iPhone 6 with a hydrogen fuel cell inside – keeping the iPhone powered for an entire week without a charge. The company also displayed their hydrogen fuel cell-powered Macbook which can also run continuously for a week.

Swedish startup MyFC unveiled what they call the world smallest and most powerful fuel cell charger in the world – allowing charge without ever having to touch a wall outlet.

And the hydrogen announcements were not limited to handheld devices. CES also saw Toyota show off their hydrogen-powered FCV Plus concept car. The unveiled car uses hydrogen to drive but Toyota also announced that it can be hooked up to an external fuel cell and used to power your house too.


  1. Energy management

There was a large focus on technology that can be used around the home, saving energy and money for the consumer.

O2 and AT&T used the conference to announce that they are launching a smart home platform linking central heating, home security and energy management under a single internet-based platform. The hub will be launched in the UK by the summer and will be offered to O2’s 25m customers.

Whirlpool showcased a dishwasher and fridge that can be linked to a Nest thermostat, meaning they will not start cycles during periods of high energy demand, reducing the strain on the electricity grid and saving money on household bills.

There was also quite a lot of buzz around an internet-connected washing machine which is also packed with sensors, designed by a firm called Marathon Laundry, and shower heads that use turbines to track and limit water use.


  1. Smart cities

Technology that can be applied to whole cities took centre stage and an innovative solution launched by BMW, dubbed “Light and Charge”, is a type 1 charging solution with a built-in street light and embedded sensors that BMW aims to offer to cities as a whole suite of smart city applications. Working already with cities like LA, BMW’s vision is to make this solution brand agnostic and support any EV models on the market.

Besides BMW, AT&T was the other key business that showcased the fruits of its recently launched smart city initiative. With cities such as Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas launched as pilot customers, AT&T is developing a digital dashboard to connect utility meters, street lights and water systems into a smart grid with cloud computing connections.

Joseph Taylor, Panasonic CEO, outlined CityNow, which is the company's smart city planning and integration services unit. Panasonic cited Denver as a city that is running pilots for various smart city technologies. The effort will focus on energy use, telehealth, security, smart buildings and transportation.


By Isabel Davies and Danielle Mathews

Isabel Davies

Hill & Knowlton Strategies Search