Influencing and controlling the timing of demand will be a core competence of companies in the electricity value chain.
The electricity value chain is increasingly focusing on the timing of demand. Less and less about the quantity of electricity generated and sold. More about kWs and kWhs at particular times.
Price signals and value pools for flexibility are growing year by year, market by market. Capturing this value will depend on the ability to control and influence the timing of demand, storage and distributed generation.
We are currently in the early stages of this transition. Most European countries are changing the market structures and opening up regulations to enable the transition, and the direction is very clear for the electricity industry:
TSOs are starting to procure more balancing services from distributed assets.
Demand response is being traded in wholesale markets.
Network operators are starting to procure demand response rather than more copper.
Energy suppliers are already buying electricity based on what customers actually use every half hour, rather than on standard average profiles.
Product manufacturers, from the HVAC, battery and EV charge point industries are embedding demand response capability in their hardware and software
There is an explosion of pioneers and innovators making the running. Companies are working out what parts of the emerging value chain they want to play in. This all creates a very complex web of partnerships and capabilities. Some players focus on larger customers, some on the residential market, some on particular asset types, some on the whole value chain, some in providing enabling platforms and capability to others… It can be hard to make sense of all this.
I don’t think complexity and uncertainty should be an excuse to do nothing. And indeed, some established companies – such as Shell, Engie, and Centrica, have recently opened their wallets to acquire companies and capabilities. Big investments are one approach. But there are plenty of other approaches, from in-house development, to partnerships, start-ups, and more.
Either way, as the famous quote goes “the best way to predict the future is to create it”. My advice: be inside the transition from quantity to timing, not outside of it.