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.
So where does this leave the incumbents, such as Europe’s major energy suppliers and HVAC manufacturers? Right now, they are relatively big players in new energy – matching the spending of most new market entrants. There also appears to be decent headroom for them to direct more resources towards this market, and of course, they are the incumbent holders of the energy customer relationship. Perhaps also to their benefit is there is currently little consistency in new energy strategy across the tech giant and automotive manufacturing sectors – two other key players we see entering this space. In truth, with a few notable exceptions, many of these players remain at the fringes of new energy, keeping their options open and waiting for clear winning business models to emerge. But the early warning signs are there for the incumbents and it won’t just be oil majors they need to contend with here. We would suggest they remain alert to these new entrants, act now to develop their own new energy propositions and, of course, expect the unexpected.