Building a bridge towards future energy

 

Post by Mark Coyle, Chief Marketing Officer at ESG @ mark.coyle@esgglobal.com

 

For five years our papers here have provided insights into the emergence of smarter energy as smart meters and device data created a foundation for innovation. We have described an emerging roadmap of future energy with empowered consumers, more technology potential and opportunities to support our future energy resilience.  It now feels that we are at a point of inflection from the original basis of energy to the next.  So in this, we bring together the various opportunities and risks in the transition and explore the need for a humane approach where organisations collaborate to deliver real, personalized benefit with compassion.

Our world is being changed by global trends of digitization, the need for sustainability and the pandemic. As we respond to these trends, the pace of change to move ever more of our lives online accelerates.  Change that normally takes decades is being delivered in short times to create business models that reflect our new way of living.  Technology is also having a profound impact on the energy sector as it is transformed through the same drivers. While our world changes quickly, energy must continue as it has for decades to provide a foundation for our lives and economies today. Additionally, we now have governments seeking a transition towards Net-Zero through such as the ‘green industrial revolution’ intended by the UK government.

 

 

Through its chairing of COP26 in 2021, the UK government is seeking to provide leadership in a global transition towards sustainability. New law and policy combined with technology innovation will transform energy production, delivery and management. New energy production is becoming more distributed to the grid-edge and into consumer premises, storage and electric vehicles have introduce opportunities for more sophisticated management of energy demand by consumers.  Those competing to attract and retain customers have to evolve their businesses from a simple upfront price choice towards finding ways to save consumers money and reduce complexity as more opportunity emerges through smart energy insight, control and self-sufficiency.

In the near term the global pandemic has impacted energy affordability for many, as jobs are removed from our economy and a time lag before new economic opportunities emerge at scale.  While regulators and energy Suppliers seek to support customers who are impacted by the current situation or are vulnerable, governments and organisations seek to deliver a path to ensure energy remains available on a sustainable and affordable basis for all.  These are difficult competing requirements in the near term, the path to use more renewable electricity generation can introduce intermittency to the grid that must then be balanced with fast-response carbon emitting sources at high cost for only short term use.

The grand sweep of well intended ‘green industrial revolution’ talk may mean the focus is on the largest measures with little near term linkage to personal situations.  Revolutions are by their nature, chaotic and have unintended consequences.  While the overall direction may be towards a better future, social bodies and energy Suppliers themselves will try to support consumers as they absorb the complexity and costs of change.

 

 

With more distributed energy able to produce and manage energy within customer premises, additional technologies enable continuous optimisation through artificial intelligence, machine learning and operational automation.  Overall these techniques will help our society manage a more complex energy situation, but with those able to access the finance and space to deploy technologies most able to receive the financial benefit.  Individual consumers may be confused or unable to adopt these technologies so we need to balance artificial intelligence with compassion and machine leaning with human learning.

The increasing sophistication of energy will benefit us most when it meets our personal needs and engages with society in a humane way. Although exciting as a new frontier for our world, technology is not a means to its own end. It is there to help us meet the still unmet needs of global, country and individual energy continuity and sustainability balanced with affordability.  At its simplest, energy underpins the quality of our lives and supports a better experience of work and home for everyone now and into the future.

Governments will introduce the laws and policy to set a path towards future energy as part of the Net Zero transition but it is organisations who deliver the change.  Energy Suppliers have to compete for customers, deliver smart energy benefits and unlock the further energy control and savings for consumers in a fast changing environment.  The original basis of energy competition is already changing with smart data insight, connectivity and new technologies. There is an opportunity now to turn the potential of new technologies into propositions and pricing that benefit each consumer individually.  In doing so the relationship will evolve from seller-buyer towards a more equal one in which the energy availability at or near the customer has benefit to the grid for which it shares in reward.

 

 

Delivering this change requires organisations providing energy to consumers to have a foot in each era, first to compete in energy as it was originally established and then to support emerging needs of the early adopters for future energy.  The emergence of future energy is not delivered in a co-ordinated, planned way at national level, instead each consumer may choose different options and brands that all need to work together.  Today smart meters, controllable thermostats, heat pumps, EV charges and solar on the roof are not connected together, they offer incremental benefit without any holistic overall optimisation.  These technologies are not interoperable or working on the same communications technologies.  So those providing technologies may created a subset of technologies that have integrated through their software platform, but these creates the potential for lock-in and stranded customers in future.

 

 

So with the new opportunity to engage customers and provide this new technology to them, comes risk of how and when to invest funds and talent or to integrate and partner with.  Companies providing future energy need to define their continual path of technology, competence, compliance, agility and their ability to fund the change. There is risk of technology failure, with solutions going out of support, solutions that cannot scale or customers do not enjoy.  Navigating through from the basis of energy competition today to be proactive in shaping the energy future takes focus and the deployment of expertise at the earliest point. Organisations need to be liberated from distracting complexity, to stay lean with simple, customer focused business models.  That gives them space to stay agile competitively, innovate continually and align this to specific customer benefits.

The journey for our energy sector will take decades to deliver the sustainability intentions governments are confirming.  From competing for customers, there will be a shift over time towards optimizing energy for customers through their engagement and technologies from the premise to the grid and across sources of sustainable production.  Those able to prepare for and deliver this transition at scale will have an evolutionary advantage over their competitors.  Those following competitors have less time to experiment or learn, becoming less likely to shape opportunity and possible more likely to inherit the risks.  Yet this set of changes is coming towards our world all at once across the path of Net Zero, the transition of vehicles from fuel combustion to electric and hydrogen, the changing pattern of work and fast shift to online interaction.

 

 

In the modern era, this change often feels overwhelming to us all. We all feel that change is accelerating as the digital transition becomes a defining characteristic of our world. Organisations are themselves a community of people united by a purpose, who get tired and need a quality of life themselves.  We are all the energy consumers trying to navigate our own choices while promoting a roadmap to our customers.  In putting the humane at the heart of the energy transition, it is our human relationships and long-term trust that underpins our ability to keep innovating for societal benefit.  Technology is in itself, passive to its outcomes which are determined by humans trying to do their best for other humans.

So in delivering the needs of our changing world and creating the energy future, those supplying energy to consumers need the ability to transition from their founding basis into the next.  They benefit from partners with the right alignment, culture and platforms who will empower their business.  Innovating for customer benefits in energy is hard, often taking long times to convert into viable businesses at scale. The right partners who appreciate this, focus on empowering their business and share their vision help energy leaders compete, innovate and benefit their customers.  This is our commitment, it is our journey to this point – to be that aligned partner with the right platforms, capabilities, scale and expertise to empower your success.

 

 

Your mission is ours, we exist to empower energy leaders globally.  We provide the innovative technology that enables them to deliver their future promise of energy.  A promise of energy that is smarter, cleaner, more democratic and mutually beneficial.  There is a lot to do, but beyond the technology, investments and business models are people working together.  Only through relationships and a humane approach will we support everyone in living better within a fast changing world.

Together we will create a bridge from this to the next era of energy, a bridge of solutions, service, alignment and true partnership.  Companies choosing their platform partners for the future, to deepen the relationships that unlock the biggest benefits at scale.  Everything we have done so far, over two decades takes us to this point of readiness.  We are now working as the technology-service partner to many of the world’s new leading customer energy providers who are empowered through our software as a service.  While the future energy roadmap is becoming clear, there is no single defined path so we will help you form this for our customers and meet the need we all have for better lives and businesses at the least viable impact.

 

Mark Coyle – Chief Marketing Officer, ESG

 

Email today to explore collaboration in the path to future energy at mark.coyle@esgglobal.com

 

Mark’s energy market insight feed is at:

http://www.twitter.com/markcoyleuk

https://www.linkedin.com/in/markcoyle/

 

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