The energy ecosystem is being driven by several powerful forces. Demand growth is sluggish as increases from the electrification of transport and heating are offset by customer adoption of energy-efficiency measures and small-scale distributed energy resources (DERs) like solar, smart heat pumps and battery storage. Renewables are being deployed at a rapid pace, increasingly competing with and even beating traditional generation sources on price.
Technology is emerging as an invaluable enabler, with digital interactions, digital customer journeys, digital advertising, on-line sales and services, personalization, and AI-driven customer operations driving significant customer engagement improvements and cost reductions.
The financial industry too is increasingly investing in sustainable business; with lower but volatile oil prices, investors see innovative, green-focused utilities and electricity as safe havens and, more importantly, as the energy businesses of the future. Competition in the space is also heating up with a host of new entrants all looking for a piece of new downstream energy value.
These shifting tensions are ratcheting up pressure on energy companies to not only bolster slower-growing margins of their core commodity businesses, but also to derive value and faster growth from new business models.
At the same time, COVID-19 has raised the stakes and speed for change. Over the short term, the pandemic has impacted customer-scale solutions, such as distributed energy resources (DERs), including a temporary halt to many domestic solar installations and build outs of EV charge points. It has given us a preview of the energy transition in the next 10 years; for example, with high participation of variable renewables in the European grid during lockdowns. It is proving to be an opportunity to enact recovery policies that reinforce and accelerate the energy transition and is also serving as a catalyst to redefine cities and transport as the nature of work shifts.
Above all, it has shown that support for the energy transition and the appreciation of its benefits are greater than ever.
Moving from commodities into the world of connected energy products and services creates a unique opportunity to distinctively reshape and repurpose an energy company’s brand and customer experience, facilitating a shift from traditional utility toward becoming an innovative digital energy service provider.