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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?
As part of our recent European Heat Summit held in Berlin, our Gas Heating Service team hosted a unique invitation-only roundtable to discuss and debate the top issues and opportunities facing suppliers of high efficiency gas heating systems like micro-CHP, fuel cells, and gas-fuelled heat pumps.
We heard from a wide range of speakers, from industry associations like COGEN Europe, to heating industry giants like Baxi and Vaillant, to specialist technology developers like Tennessee’s Stone Mountain Technologies Inc. and Sunfire from nearby Dresden.
Demand-side response and flexibility are becoming increasingly important – this is evident in the UK following BEIS’ announcement of its new plan to upgrade the UK’s energy system and give homes and businesses more control over their energy use. The opportunities for innovation and investment in the energy sector, therefore, are vast.
Smart electrically-driven heating is a potentially valuable field in which to invest, but to what extent will customers and the energy system benefit, and how can these benefits be unlocked?
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