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Neil manages the delivery of Delta-EE’s New Energy Business Model Service. He joined Delta-EE in 2018 from npower, where he undertook a range of roles across the business. These included supporting the delivery of energy solutions to npower’s I&C customers, working in the Group Retail Strategy team at innogy SE in Germany, and assisting with the commercial development of npower’s Electric Vehicle Charging Solutions team.

Neil holds an MSc (distinction) in International Development from the University of Edinburgh and an MA (first class honours) in Sustainable Development from the University of St Andrews.

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How energy suppliers must change to meet the challenges of the future

One of the foremost challenges for energy suppliers over the next five years is how to meet the changing needs and expectations of their customers. In the broadest sense, these customers can be seen to sit on a continuum, ranging from disengaged with energy and climate change, to highly engaged (see diagram).

For the disengaged customers on the left of the continuum, energy supply is little more than a form of taxation that they would rather not have to think about. Conversely, with the highly engaged customers on the right, you find early adopters and innovators keen to participate in the energy transition and prepared to spend significant amounts of money, without necessarily expecting much of a return on investment.

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Why Australia is becoming a leading market for virtual power plants using residential energy storage

Given it’s one of the world’s top exporters of coal, Australia might not be top of mind when it comes to new energy. One area where it is ahead of the curve though, is virtual power plants (VPPs) using residential energy storage. Indeed, ignoring any near-term market disruption due to COVID-19, we see the potential for a doubling of residential storage assets taking part in a VPP over the coming year or so. This will take the installed base active in a VPP to 10,000 systems. Alongside Germany, this makes Australia one of the most active global markets we have seen. 

At Delta-EE, we decided to look at what has been fuelling this growth down under. Here, I set out some of the key reasons we identified: 

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The dilemma facing blockchain in energy

The hype surrounding blockchain in energy has undoubtedly dropped off since 2017, as the realities of moving towards commercialisation has proved far harder than many expected back then.

Most of blockchain’s potential applications to new energy, like virtual community energy trading, EV charging roaming and green energy verification, remain as small pilot projects. Whilst it does still generate interest when brought up at energy industry and tech conferences, those working with blockchain day-to-day are trying to shift the conversation away from the underlying technology and towards the solutions it provides. However, the current reality is that it is ‘permissioned’ blockchains that make most sense for energy applications, and there are two key challenges that we think may hold it back.

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The epic battle for new energy dominance

We often get asked questions like “Do you think Amazon will acquire an energy supplier?”, “What will BMW’s EV charging strategy be?” and “Are the oil majors really interested in new energy? and we have a lot to say about each of them. However, given the pace at which the energy transition is happening – with opportunistic acquisitions, product launches and partnerships springing up in places that would have seemed unthinkable a year or two ago - probably the only answer we can give to these questions with absolute certainty right now is to “expect the unexpected”. We certainly try to.

Having said that, Europe’s oil majors would currently appear to be best placed in the battle to capture the new energy customer. Given that we recently conducted a comprehensive review of the activities of new market entrants in this space – we can say that with confidence. The oil majors have a combination of strategic need and financial strength which is unmatched at this moment in time. As such, we have little doubt that the likes of Shell and Total will continue to be highly active as the new energy market develops, and we fully expect some of their rivals (BP, Eni, etc.) to increase their activity too.

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