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Governments and energy sector innovation: it’s all about the business model

When it comes to the energy sector, or industry in general, government and innovation are two words not often associated with one another in Europe. Regulations, security and a business as usual approach are what springs to the mind when thinking of departments of energy the world over. However, it appears that this is beginning to change, with innovation starting to rise up some governments’ check-lists.

Consulting your way to innovation

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PV deployment in 2015 eclipsed all other years – but what will give the market a jolt as the sun sets on the Feed-in Tariff era?

According to DECC residential PV (< 4kWp) has just had its record year, with 172,318 installations in 2015 (topping the previous one in 2012 with ~160,000 installations).  This was aided by the noticeable surge of installations towards the end of the year due to expected and finally confirmed Feed-in Tariff (FiT) cuts that took place at the start of this month.

While January of this year is still expected to show some of the surge from the customers that were jumping on the last train of the old FiT rate, there is a lot of uncertainty around the future of the UK market. Are subsidy cuts the beginning of the end for residential PV? Or, will innovations in technology and finance step in to continue the market development towards bright future? 

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CES 2016: What happens in Vegas... is relevant for the energy industry!

Sue Furnell and I went to the CES in sunny Las Vegas, to explore the latest innovations of the global connected home market. Since there are dozens of good reviews about the event online (example links below this blog) we thought there was no reason to re-invent the wheel. Instead, we  have endeavoured to make our review as relevant as possible for your businesses. Here are our takeaways:

  1. There is a large number of ecosystems connecting different devices together. Here are a few names I collected while walking around but there were many more: Orvibo, Securifi, Insteon, Green Peak, Smartlife IoT, Savant, Gooee, Côr, Wisilica, Zipato, Ubiant, Myxity, Evey, Muzzley… and this was on top of the use cases developed by the alliances like Zigbee, Allseen, Thread, Homekit or Z-Wave. Some of these are providing hubs centralising the connectivity between devices, some provide white label platforms, and some simply provide a physical remote control. Most of these will fail to secure scale as the market develops and there will only be a small number of winners.

  2. As we explained in our latest Connected Home Service report (the state of the connected home market beyond energy), wearables for health and fitness are becoming huge. The key companies like Fitbit and Withings had the biggest booths of the West Tech area and put on shows to attract the public. This is where the volumes are today globally in the connected device arena.

  3. The peace of mind vertical has never been so crowded, with dozens of security cameras being showcased.
    1. Netatmo announced its well-designed outdoor camera (called Presence) which adds to the indoor one (Welcome).
    2. The French company, Myfox, also presented a discrete camera they recently launched. The company is now working with the insurance expert AXA in France, who wants to use connected security products to add to its service portfolio.
    3. Other brands exhibiting cameras included: Homeguard, Piper, Canary, Côr, Smanos, Blink, First Alert, Hubble, Elarm, iControl, Amcrest… Once again, we doubt all these brands will survive the connected home market expansion.

  4. The large and global platforms like Allseen and Homekit start to create some momentum
    1. A few companies such as Honeywell were showing their products with the newly Homekit compatibility. Building the products on the standard required a lot of effort and needed around 18 months of development (since Homekit was announced) to achieve the seamless user experience Apple required.
    2. The number of Allseen Alliance (which runs on the AllJoyn protocol) members hasn’t stopped growing in the last few months but so far the penetration of AllJoyn ready devices remained low. This now starts to evolve in the right direction as TV companies like LG announced several hundreds of thousands of AllJoyn-ready smart TVs sold in the world.

  5. As for the energy part of connected home:
    1. The Nest and Lyrics (Honeywell) thermostats were present on a lot of booths. It seems those two will be the dominant products in the US smart thermostat market.
    2. New ‘European’ smart thermostats have been announced and received awards from the CES: Engie with its budget thermostat called Homni, where the end-user can set a budget for the month for heating instead of setting up the temperature. Ween – an automated smart thermostat based on presence sensor and geo-localisation – has also been shown to the public.
    3. Eliq, a Swedish connected home start-up, exposed its energy monitoring device which reads the smart meter data. What’s really interesting is that it is now sold by Ikea in Sweden (for ~€59) who could be one of the disruptive retailers for connected home products. There hasn’t been much push from IKEA yet though, but we expect this might change soon as the company is on a learning curve with this market.
    4. Bosch exposed similar use cases for their boiler at the CES as in last year’s event ISH in Frankfurt. The remote diagnostic software was demonstrated on both the installer and the user side. However the development remains in trials and hasn’t been launched commercially yet.

The event itself is without a doubt the best event of the year to find out the latest connected home trends and innovations. I would recommend it to anyone looking at this space from any angle. We would be delighted to discuss this more in depth with you individually or to exchange views if you were there as well, so please feel free to get in touch, my email is arthur.jouannic@delta-ee.com.

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Recent Comments
Guest — Arjan Haring
Hello Arthur, Thanks so much for the great write up! How about WiFi HaLow 802.11AH? I've heard it has been launched, but was it... Read More
Tuesday, 19 January 2016 14:56
Arthur Jouannic
Hello Arjan, Indeed the WiFi HaLow has been announced at the CES. People I spoke about this with seemed to be adopting a 'wait an... Read More
Tuesday, 19 January 2016 15:52
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New business models are the key to utilities’ continued relevance in the 21st century

The West’s energy industry is coming under pressure to change and innovate at an increasingly frantic pace on account of a whole range of drivers that interact with each other in complex, unpredictable ways.  Policy change, IT & technological developments, growing customer power, vertical market convergence and geopolitical factors are all playing a part. Energy companies know they have to react but, caught in the headlights of oncoming crisis, are freezing when decisive action is most needed.

 
However, we at Delta-ee believe that all is not lost; indeed, we believe that utilities will still have a critical role to play in the 21st Century. That is, provided they reinvent themselves now as credible energy services businesses and learn to depend less on their legacy, commodity-only business models. As part of our recent Energy Services Innovation study, Delta-ee investigated 107 global innovating energy service companies and identified 11 disruptive business models that can keep energy companies relevant in the 21st Century. We look to explore 4 of these in more detail in our upcoming Utility Week article.

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Energy and heat markets collide – but what will the future look like?

Two traditionally separate markets are starting to collide. Coupled with the start of a connectivity revolution, this is opening up numerous innovation opportunities – which we think will start to disrupt both markets.

New market entrants threaten to disintermediate the utility/customer relationship

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Innovation Stories from the Future

Which of the many stories of emerging innovation in the energy services world give us a true glimpse of how it will look in future?


The energy services world is changing as never before.

There are many reasons why.

There are challenging new objectives for carbon reduction, security of supply and fuel poverty.

Can the 21st century’s energy ‘trilemma’ really be solved by energy systems that were designed for the 20th century?

New technology is responding to the challenge.

In many markets today, PV opens up opportunities for new business models and new value creation. In the future, it will be joined by other candidates such as storage, distributed generation, and electric vehicles.

A wave of new entrant suppliers are entering the market with innovative business models and propositions, stealing market share.

Vertical markets are colliding.

Telcos are already eating into the energy market in the US, and are starting to do so in Europe. And appliance manufacturers have their eyes on part of the energy value chain.

The rise of connectivity and the Internet of Things opens up huge opportunities.

It also enables third parties to disintermediate utilities from customers, potentially reducing them to wholesalers operating on wafer thin margins.



There are so many new opportunities that, at Delta-ee, we have set ourselves the goal of identifying the most exciting stories of how innovation will change the energy services landscape.

And we’re not just focusing on ‘ideas’ – but looking instead for the early commercial offerings, trials and demonstrations that provide clear glimpses of the future.

Yes it’s about technology, but it’s also about a whole lot more. Consider the novel micro-CHP solution supplied by Flow Energy.

It’s an interesting piece of domestic technology: but what’s really appealing is their effective reinvention of themselves as an energy company; and their imaginative “pay just for installation” offering to customers. By taking energy companies out of the picture, Flow are able to access new value pools far outside those normally associated with boilers and micro-CHP.

Will this kind of novel thinking become the new normal in what has traditionally been a slow-moving industry?

This is just the start.

Delta-ee’s new Energy Services Innovation database will capture the most exciting value creation opportunities emerging from:

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