Demand for greener energy products and services is growing. Consumers also want more innovative ways of increasing efficiency and reducing their overall energy use and cost, as well as easier access to new products and services, such as e-mobility services, which suit changing lifestyles. But many energy providers are struggling to fulfil these desires.
That needs to change—not just because it is what customers want, but also because energy providers themselves will gain from an expanded product portfolio that incorporates clean energy and energy-efficient services.
Customers are starting to want more
Accenture’s new global survey of 500 energy providers finds them expecting consumers to demand more over the next three years.
of energy providers expect high demand for incentives to switch to more energy-efficient appliances and/or from gas to electricity.
expect high demand for renewable energy supply 24/7.
expect high demand for renewable on-site generation, such as rooftop solar.
Those demands could cause problems for energy providers. While 86% claim that they respond effectively to customer needs in general, far fewer say the same when it comes to meeting demands for cleaner energy. Just over half (54%) say they are effective at meeting demand for green products and services.
Crucially, the survey also shows that this shortage of low-carbon products and solutions will directly affect the customer experience. The inability to meet demand for greener products and services is energy providers’ single biggest barrier to improving the customer experience.
Energy providers must be ready not only to meet the shift in demand to low-carbon energy but also to ensure that there is enough energy to go around.
“PacificLight is driven to provide sustainable energy solutions for all of our customers and identify ways to use energy as efficiently as possible,” says Geraldine Tan, General Manager at PacificLight. “This includes energy audits, smart metering, and adoption of renewable energy, which deliver innovative energy solutions and create a more sustainable future,” Tan says.
But with an increasing share of supply from renewables, more distributed generation, and a rapidly expanding range of uses (such as for electric-vehicle charging), the grid is more complex than ever. To involve consumers in demand management, energy providers will need to simplify it for them.
Make it easy for customers
Customers want to experience outcomes, rather than thinking about how or why to use a specific solution, which makes it difficult for energy providers to engage them.
“People do not want to think about their energy usage,” explains Barbara Higgins, Consultant at Duke Energy. “There are already so many pressures on their day-to-day lives.” Duke Energy’s approach, Higgins says, is to make demand management “something that's effortless and doesn't require any extra thought or hassle but helps save money.”
Following a smart-meter installation program, Duke Energy is rolling out a range of innovative services. Customers will be offered alerts if they are using more energy than usual or are approaching billing-scheme limits, and a mobile app will empower them by providing a real-time picture of their energy usage. Early trials have been “transformative,” confirms Higgins.
Homes are ripe for energy upgrades
As more customers choose to use smart home technologies, energy providers will have increasing opportunities to help them manage their energy usage and to offer complementary services or products. They could offer customers advice on their changing usage patterns, or targeted offers for upgrading inefficient appliances.
But companies also need to ensure that consumers understand their products and services, and see the value in them. The customer experience needs to be simple and the interface user-friendly for these products to take off.
There are also opportunities for new services that lower the barriers that are preventing consumers from taking part in the transition to net-zero. UK company Octopus Energy, for example, has grown quickly to become one of Europe’s largest investors in renewable energy. It currently generates enough electricity to power 1.2m homes and expects this to grow to 50m homes by 2027.1
Commercial and industrial demand is also changing
Demand for greener energy is also rapidly changing the commercial and industrial energy ecosystem.
of energy providers expect high levels of demand from commercial and industrial consumers for renewable or clean energy, 24/7.
expect high demand for hydrogen use for industrial applications.
expect high demand for battery storage options.
Greener products could make or break energy providers
Decarbonization efforts across industry and manufacturing, alongside rapidly changing consumer attitudes to net-zero, add up to a decisive shift. When companies empower their customers to take part in those efforts, they will be rewarded. Energy providers must offer a growing range of ever-more-sophisticated products and services to support decarbonization, from fleet electrification and EV-charging services through to solar installations, demand management, and microgrids.
of energy providers believe that companies that do not help their customers to achieve net-zero with greener products and services will get left behind.
The competitive threat is clear, but so, too, are the opportunities. Energy providers will thrive if they focus relentlessly on meeting emerging customer needs with an innovative portfolio of products.
Product placement: How to give customers what they really want
Accompany consumers on their own transition journeys. It takes time for consumers to see the value of, and want to engage with, more energy-efficient services. This requires education and on-going dialogue to ensure that consumers stay on track and remain invested and willing to engage in services such as solar panels or e-mobility.
Lower barriers to participation in the energy transition. Develop services that make it both straightforward and affordable for customers to be part of the move toward net-zero. A seamless experience is key, and a range of services are required to give consumers the choices they want.
Meet commercial and industrial demand for helping to reduce Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. Broaden your procurement portfolio and accelerate work to develop the necessary infrastructure to mitigate customer emissions, including through e-transport options, onsite-generation, and building energy management. Invest in new products and services, such as hydrogen and battery storage technologies, which will fuel the electricity system of the future.