It’s been a fascinating few days in Amsterdam at European Utility Week 2017 and it has been great to be able to talk to so many of our clients and friends in the industry, so we wanted to share some of takeaways from the event. In our view it remains the most important ‘new energy’ event in the European calendar and we are pleased to be associated with it as a Game Changing sponsor.
Other than our very own David Trevithick’s presentation on Customer Engagement in the Digital Energy Economy, Ernesto Ciorra’s keynote articulated in an engaging and impactful manner the paradigm shift facing the utility sector. As readers will know there are 4 main parts of the traditional utility sector: generation, transmission, distribution and retail. Ernesto argues that traditional generation, distribution and retail businesses are all disappearing through a combination of distributed generation, community or local energy networks, storage and P2P trading. That leaves only transmission – and who needs a transmission network when there isn’t any centralised generation, distribution or supply?!
The whole industry value chain is set to disappear. Innovation is a Force for good, but it has a destructive dark side too, so expect disruption and destruction of existing industry structures. Innovation in new business models is not a choice: it’s essential. This resonates with how we see our mission at Delta-ee, helping our clients navigate this transformation of the energy system.
Progress Is Being Made!
I commented to one of our team that this year’s EUW didn’t seem hugely different from last year. My colleague hadn’t visited the event for 4 years and responded, “Well to me it feels hugely different. There are different people, the topics have changed a lot and the conversations are completely different”. This was also reflected across the exhibition floor, where we saw a lot more start-ups than in previous years, and it was great to see how some companies we know well have transitioned from the start-up zone to booths in the main exhibition.
Data and Software, Not Hardware
Everyone is talking about data and software – hardware manufacturers all seem to be thinking about how they become service providers by ‘moving beyond the switch board’ or ‘beyond the meter’ etc. There were a lot (and I mean a lot) of companies promoting their data platforms, and talking about customer centricity. While we saw a number of interesting developments and offerings, we didn’t see anything that we think will set the world alight.
There seems to be a long way to go before we see truly customer first and data driven decision making which requires collaboration between different disciplines, and solutions providers aren't offering this. Many vendors are still small operations often in trial stage and without the evidence of success to support business cases. There’s often a lack of clarity on the end game, who to target or what energy suppliers or their customers want – but that’s not stopping many trying to carve out a niche or a “me-too” product offering. This is certainly an area where Delta-ee see a real need for direction, which we can help our clients with.
Electric Vehicles and Flexibility Are Also Hot Topics
Two years ago, storage was the key topic. Last year it was blockchain. This year Electric Vehicles was very topical – standing room only at this session. There’s a wave of momentum in this area and it came into many of our own conversations at EUW. We’re moving ahead with our research in this area so watch this space for our updates. Flexibility / Demand side Management was a strong theme throughout both the exhibition and Summit conference. We are well ahead of the game on this one and have a lot of existing research which can help clients.
Coolest Things We Saw?
It was good fun trying out this Green Energy Options concept interface – wave your hand to control your device. Not sure it will beat voice control but looks pretty cool!
We were fascinated to meet this Bulgarian start-up, MClimate, who seems to have a bunch of talented young people. The company grew on the back of its connected A/C control and has now expanded to connected water heater controls and to connected radiator valves for the most interesting products. It also claims that the first 2 products are demand response ready. While we felt like the connected climate control market was well established in Europe, it does make us think that there is still space for new entrants, especially for product segment that are still niche today but which could be big in 2-3 years’ time. Even when you know a space very well you can still be surprised!
In summary, we are more convinced than ever that the transformation is underway. Those senior execs that are thinking it’s going to take 20 years before businesses are disrupted are in for a big surprise. Change is happening now.
I hope you found these reflections useful and we’ll be taking our learnings from EUW into our upcoming research updates for our subscribers – but of course we welcome any feedback or questions you may have. Feel free to get in touch with me on +44 (0)131 476 4259.