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The New Energy Letter: May 2020

At the current time it’s difficult to think about the energy transition without thinking about the current COVID-19 crisis. The economic downturn affects all parts of the economy, depresses energy demand, and impacts the whole energy value chain. But what specifically does it mean for the transition from old to new energy? We’ve identified five key points

  1. Digitalisation will accelerate. Companies with digital customer channels are less affected. Automated processes, such as those used by demand side flexibility providers, are carrying on as normal. Connected home propositions built around peace of mind may get more traction. These are just three examples.
  2. ‘As a Service’ business models will gain more traction. Upfront capital will be harder to find for businesses and individuals alike. From electrification of fleets to new heating systems, propositions that remove upfront payments will be well positioned.
  3. Subsidies & incentives are under pressure, but there are opportunities for ‘green’ stimulus packages. On one hand, government spending on the energy transition will come under pressure. Business models dependent on subsidies and incentives may suffer. On the other hand, if stimulus to kick-start economic growth have a green tinge to them, this could open new opportunities. Finally, historically low oil prices may be a once in a generation opportunity to reduce the US$500 trillion global subsidies that fossil fuels receive.
  4. Innovation without a big price tag. Grand, shiny, expensive innovation projects have gradually been going out of fashion as companies focus on rapid, agile, fail-fast approaches to innovation. The crisis will accelerate this. Big new projects won’t be big priorities for most companies; but low-cost innovation will enable companies to keep pushing forward on the transition to new energy.
  5. A further boost for localisation of energy. The current crisis has highlighted the fragility of our global, just-in-time supply chains and interconnected economies. One scenario for how we come out of the crisis is an increased focus on resilience, localisation and decentralisation. This backdrop would add a further boost for the rapidly emerging community and local energy sectors.

The current crisis is affecting us all – and our thoughts go out to those directly affected by the virus. The speed of the impact has been staggering. It has meant decisions are being taken incredibly quickly, organisations and people are adapting amazingly, and innovative approaches are being developed in days rather than months.

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Investors see opportunity in new energy and are hunting for the smart plays

I spent 20 years in the old energy world of oil and gas. (I know – mea culpa. On the plus side I so far have 10 years in new energy, so only another 10 years to go before I am in credit...). During the first 20 years of my career, I experienced first-hand the critical role of banks and financial investors to fund projects or invest in infrastructure. It’s hard to think of two worlds – oil and finance – that are more closely intertwined.  

However, over the last 10 years, it’s been apparent to me that investor interest in the new energy world is largely absent. Yes, there are clean tech investors, and some of these have even made decent returns, but the sector generally has not prospered. Indeed, for many people, it has a negative reputation.   

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Smart meter benefits: the enabling properties of smart meters to transform customer relationships

The smart meter rollout in GB has been besieged with problems, so the smart meter consultation currently underway in GB is necessary. However, completing a market-wide rollout programme is just one area to address. Stimulating innovation to unlock the longer-term benefits that smart meters undoubtedly enable and communicating these benefits and the transformational potential for customer relationships is also key to a successful future energy eco-system. 

A fresh injection to the GB smart meter rollout  

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Energy customer service: transition to a digital, customer-focussed model

Poor customer service is one of the big drivers of churn in energy retail. It’s not difficult to recall a time when you’ve felt underwhelmed when querying an inaccurate electricity bill, when trying to understand a change in payment plan or when changing account after moving home.

But under the surface, there’s a fair amount of innovation happening to address customer pain points, particularly in the digital space. Our research points to a transition away from the traditional approach centred around operational efficiency towards a customer-first approach.

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The Delta-ee New Energy Summit 2019: The key takeaways

We recently held our first New Energy Summit, in Amsterdam, on the 28-29th of May 2019.

The event brought together over 100 industry stakeholders ranging from energy suppliers, hardware manufacturers, data specialists, retailers, to insurance providers across Europe and beyond.

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Emotional factors play an increasingly important part in customer engagement

Following the success of last year’s event in Berlin, we hosted another European Digital Energy Summit to continue the discussions we had twelve months ago. The Edinburgh event brought together a record-breaking number of attendees and we even saw a bit of sunshine in the Scottish capital! Most importantly, we saw a breadth and depth of insightful, intriguing and inspiring discussion from a wide range of stakeholders.

If you didn’t manage to come to the event, don’t worry – there’s always next year! Plus, we’ve brought together the key messages from the two days, which focused on Customer Data Value and the Connected Home.

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