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All personal opinions regarding Brexit aside, there’s no denying that the European Commission and European Union has a huge influence over the energy sector. Recent episode of Talking New Energy, the Delta-EE podcast, focuses on what the latest policy coming out of the EU means for the energy transition.
As Frauke Thies, Executive Director at SmartEn, explains, organisations such as SmartEn help their members understand the legislation coming out of the European Union and how it affects them. It is not always easy to help countries understand the influence of the EU, but its influence is paramount. Take the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, for example, which has set the target for member states to achieve nearly zero energy buildings in new builds. In the future this will push towards achieving a renovation of building stock as well.
It was an inspiring two days at the Delta-EE European Heat Summit in London last week when close to 100 delegates from across the heating sector were brought together in an exciting programme spanning start-ups to energy giants and topics as diverse as hydrogen networks, smart electric heating controls and heat-as-a-service.
With this year’s Summit, it seems to us at Delta-EE that we have reached a tipping point in the decarbonisation debate. Decarbonising new build across Europe is looking increasingly positive, and though retrofit remains the largest challenge, the Summit demonstrated that there is a wealth of technologies, business models and proposition ideas that – targeted at the right sectors – promise to overcome some of this challenge.
We’re at a tipping point in how electricity systems are balanced. Traditionally, supply and demand have been matched by turning large power plants up and down, with the occasional very large industrial customer, like a steel works, containing its demand to help balance the system. But over the last ten years we’ve seen a new breed of businesses – aggregators – bringing together hundreds and thousands of distributed assets to help the electricity systems stay balanced.
We’ve seen more and more aggregators emerging as markets have opened to distributed portfolios, with more than 70 appearing across Europe. Delta-ee Director Jon Slowe suggests “we are past the tipping point of this being a distinct sector in the energy market and there will be lots more action and development over the next years”.
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.
The latest Connected Home Service customer survey investigated understanding, appeal and willingness to pay for connected heating controls and services. Our sample consisted of 800 homeowners in the UK, the Netherlands, France, Germany and Italy.
Awareness and price sensitivity for smart thermostats are low
Slowly, but very surely, the EU is getting us used to the idea of a fully decarbonised heating and cooling sector across Europe. It’s a bold and necessary objective which has profound implications for companies right across the energy sector.
But is the European Commission going about it the right way?
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