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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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Platforms: an essential part of the energy system

Platforms are one of the hot topics in the new energy sector. There are platforms which connect buyers and sellers such as for installing heating appliances or auto-switching, which interrupts the traditional energy retail-customer relationship. And there are those which connect, link and even manage large numbers of energy assets together such as hot water tanks, electric vehicles and batteries.

But why are platforms such a hot topic today?

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Defining Heat as a Service

A PDF of this graphic can be downloaded here.

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Auto-switching: will energy customers relinquish control?

Auto-switching* is more than a concept – it’s emerging from Austria to America, Great Britain to Germany.  From Look After My Bills’ appearance on the UK’s Dragons’ Den, to articles a-plenty appearing across the news, it’s slowly but surely entering the mind of the public. But while energy consumers are gradually becoming more aware of auto-switching, although by concept rather than name, it’s still being met with suspicion by some. How can customers be assured they will, in fact, be given the best deal? Is it really as easy as it sounds? Where’s the catch?

In the first episode of Talking New Energy, the new podcast from Delta-ee, we discussed the important issues driving auto-switching forward, and the roadblocks standing in its way. Find out more headlines below.

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Will Energy-as-a-Service kill the kilowatt-hour?

Last Thursday I attended the UK’s 2018 Heat and Decentralised Energy Conference. There were several exciting sessions on policy, technology, infrastructure and customers – reflecting a market that is starting to see a lot of change and disruption. Tim Rotheray, Director of the Association for Decentralised Energy, gave what I thought was an especially interesting talk on why he believes the time for Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS) has finally come.

Whether Energy-as-a-Service will lead to the death of the kilowatt-hour, as Tim suggested, has been a topic of debate within Delta-ee. We agree that customer culture is certainly changing. The trend from product and commodity towards services and outcomes is emerging across multiple industries. Customers will pay for services’ outcomes (such as comfort or mobility) rather than products and commodities (such as fuel). Just look at car leasing, music streaming and even clothing rental.

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Auto-switchers - more than a passing fad?

It’s already been 18 months since we wrote about the emergence of what we believed could be an important new trend: the growth of auto-switching services. Since then, we have watched as a series of new players has begun playing this new game. Customers continue to sign up – perhaps as many as 200,000 across Europe – and we’ve spotted no fewer than twenty auto-switchers across the world, several of whom are increasingly well funded. We have revisited this intriguing trend in some recent research, increasingly convinced that incumbents need to start taking the threat seriously.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, auto-switchers are next-generation price comparison sites, reimagining the one-off, manual tariff switching services that companies like GoCompare, Moneysupermarket and Selectra offer residential energy users. Typically, you register your home and criteria online and the auto-switcher will run an algorithm, or even use AI, to find the best deal on the market to suit your preferences (price savings, service, green) then switch you whenever it flags up that savings can be had. Timings & authorisation vary, but the idea is that you only ever personally need to take action once at the start (unless to update preferences) then forever live in complete security that the hassle of switching is removed from your To Do list forever. Some services operate membership fees (Flipper) and others rely on commission (comparison sites, Labrador) or optional hardware (June), but all share the goal of permanently soothing the perennial consumer headache that is finding the best supplier.

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