• The Energy Cloud
  • Utility Transformations
  • European Utility Week
  • smart cities

European Utility Week Poses Seven Key Questions for the Energy Industry

Eric Woods
Oct 16, 2018

Overhead Power Lines 5

One way to view the Energy Cloud is not as a blueprint but instead as a series of challenges to the energy industry on how it will respond to fundamental technological, commercial, environmental, political, and social changes reshaping the sector. One consequence of these changes is that the industry can no longer see itself as a self-contained linear supply chain with well-defined and stable roles for key players. Utilities and other players need to see themselves as part of increasingly complex and dynamic ecosystems of diverse stakeholders. In such ecosystems, collaboration and communication are vital to the success of all.

Seven Questions Shaping the Industry’s Future

The annual gathering at European Utility Week is the place where the European energy industry comes to discuss, develop, and enhance collaboration networks. It is interesting to see that the organizers have framed these issues in terms of seven questions that stakeholders need to address in Vienna next month. These questions resonate strongly with current themes in Navigant Research’s own work.

What will the future role of utilities be? The evolution of the traditional utility into new dynamic roles such as distribution service orchestrators and energy service providers is well underway and European utilities are among the leaders. What will the next steps be in this evolution?

How can we keep energy supplies resilient? Both the need to respond to the immediate effect of extreme weather events and the longer terms plans for climate adaptation are forcing utilities, governments, and industry to look at resilience in a new way and helping drive interest in distributed energy, microgrids, and energy storage.

How can the grid respond to the demands of e-mobility? Long discussed, the role of EVs in grid management is no longer theoretical. Across Europe, utilities and the automotive sector are working on innovative projects to realize the potential for grid management and for new revenue models based on both vehicle-to-grid capabilities, the reuse of EV batteries, and integration with mobility as a service offerings.

How is blockchain changing the way energy is traded? My colleagues have written extensively on the potential of blockchain in the energy sector and the possible pitfalls. Just because blockchain is often mentioned as a panacea for all problems, does not mean it won’t have a real effect on many areas of the energy sector.

How can we accelerate progress to a low carbon future? For some, this is the biggest question of all. As the need to accelerate the shift to a low carbon planet becomes evident, the energy sector is at the heart of the transformations that we need on a global scale.

What will the successful energy business models of the future be? Amid the excitement of technological change and the necessary shift to a low carbon economy, what are the commercial realities of this new world? What new forces of disruption are on the horizon and how can stakeholders come together to create robust and scalable business models?

How can energy-intensive users adapt to a changing energy market? Energy providers cannot achieve these changes alone, they need to work with major users to ensure that efficient, resilient, low carbon energy provision is part of a resilient and low carbon society and economy.

The Navigant Research team looks forward to discussing these questions and many other issues in Vienna, Austria. Please let us know if you would like to arrange a meeting.