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Ongoing transformation of the energy industry, changes in climate plus societal trends have put energy front and centre in global thinking.

Technology has disrupted almost every aspect of energy production and consumption, from renewables to energy intelligence software. Legislatively, the Paris climate accord and EU directives create a pressure to reduce carbon emissions. Ireland faces a bill of €360m as one of only four countries expected to miss its renewables target by 2020.

To respond to such developments, large corporates must adapt and create new business models – or face irrelevancy.

Working with UCD Energy Institute and our industry partners ESBElectric Ireland and Enernoc on our Sustainability Launchpad – we’re looking at the landscape for energy and asking and evaluating the following:

What are the challenges and opportunities?

1.     Evolution of energy markets:

Important changes are happening in how we buy and sell energy. These are enabling and helping the growth of new technologies and startups. These shifts include increasing customer choice, flexibility in how to buy energy, new and more complex tariffs, incentives, and financing structures are emerging. Time-based pricing and more multiple tariff schemes provide customers and companies with opportunities to reduce costs by managing when and how they use energy. The growth of big data and data analytics, cloud computing, digitialisation and connectedness of physical assets is an increasing driver of disruption.

Q: How can energy corporates foster a data-driven culture and leverage from new big data driven opportunities?

Q: What opportunities exist to satisfy customer demand, profitably, in a flexible market?

2.     Corporate transparency

Consumers are demanding increasingly unprecedented levels of information about companies they engage with. Consumers want more transparency, driven in part by concerns about the environmental and social impacts of their products and services.

Q : How can next-gen energy companies satisfy consumer demand for transparency and information?

3.     Demographic changes

Millennials are rapidly emerging as the largest consumer and employee cohort.  According to PwC report on ‘Millennials at work: Perspectives of a new generation’ – they will make up 50% of the global workforce by 2020. They are demanding higher levels of corporate accountability and a commitment to a more sustainable future. They want to buy from and work at companies that share their values and manage environmental and social issues well.

Q : What challenges does a demographic change pose to an existing business model and where are the opportunities to re-design or disrupt it?

Q : What opportunities does a demographic shift offer to a new or fledgling energy company to exploit?

4.     Technology (R)evolution

The pace and scope of technology developments in the energy space is astounding – from both a generation and consumption perspective.  Renewables are becoming cheaper and easier to integrate on and off-site. Growth in distributed and self-generation and the emergence of smart grid, energy intelligence platforms, and energy storage.

Equally Smart IoT devices are putting energy control in the hands of the end consumer and introduces new players to the energy market.

Q: What emerging or future technologies can be adopted to maximise opportunities in energy markets?

Q: How do existing corporates best respond to an increasingly complex technology landscape?

During our 12-week Sustainability Launchpad, our five teams are looking at new emerging markets, new niche customer segments and Jobs-To-Be-Done (JTBD). Areas such as the emergence of cloud based storage, machine learning algorithms and blockchain offer exciting opportunities and potential areas of growth for both new and existing businesses in the energy sector.

As one of the pioneers of the applications of electricity, Nikola Tesla once said:

“The progressive development of man is vitally dependent on invention.”

Are you ready for the changing landscape of energy? How is your organisation impacted? UpThi

Circular Economy
Mary Cronin
Author: Mary Cronin
October 3, 2017
Mary is an innovation specialist, systems thinker and circular economy facilitator. As the founder of UpThink Innovation Agency, Mary works with SMEs and large organisations as a circular economy/climate change/ESG consultant.