Intriguing new business opportunities along the smart energy value chain
Last Monday saw the coming together of major industry figures, for the first day of the Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Future of Energy Summit in London. Even just the first 24 hours provided a glimpse into the business opportunities available in the energy market.
Smart capabilities and data analysis
A prime conversation topic was how IT software and data analysis are going to change the rules of the renewables game, offering consumers smarter capabilities and helping businesses to track and manage their energy use.
Blockchain technology is also set to change things up. BusinessGreen describes this as the tech that “creates an incorruptible digital ledger that records, tracks, and executes transactions between parties without the need for external validation.” It is essentially a master spreadsheet that is fully protected and crosschecked with thousands of sources to unlock a whole new level of transparent data for eco-friendly businesses.
Renewables trading for small business
Its machine-learning algorithms can be used with both peer-to-peer and peer-to-utility energy, carving out prime opportunity for business energy suppliers. Blockchain also facilitates tamper-proof emissions trading systems and monitors the progress of renewable energy credits to anticipate future demand, using a traceable supply chain.
This would hugely boost consumer trust in utilities, representing a new channel of opportunity for businesses to trade renewable energy certificates (RECs). A system devised by a collective of companies including Nasdaq back in 2016, automatically creates and logs RECs using blockchain, offering an authentic example of how smaller smart energy business can more easily participate in this trade.
A commitment to developing the infrastructure to support electric vehicles was also discussed. Major companies including Italian firm Enel announced their part in creating an intelligent and detailed charging network in line with ongoing EV development.
Utilities are currently working out how best to profit from the projected immense growth in battery charging. Ideas include sharing revenues with drivers using EVs as storage devices.
Decentralisation, step forward
There’s some more good news for SMEs as major utilities are starting to accept decentralisation. How? By shifting their approach and partnering up with smaller companies to take advantage of mass electrification.
The Big Six can no longer dominate the domestic energy supply market as home solar panels, energy storage and district heating networks are revolutionising both the grid and the market to make space for smaller business. It’s early days but the opportunities are there.
Indeed, ownership is changing across the board as another item on the agenda was how the private sector has taken control of our energy transition. Jérôme Pécresse, President and CEO of GE Renewable Energy, told the summit how: “The role of governments has shifted from drivers and decision makers, to the role of facilitators.” He discussed how the governments are responsible for providing political stability while projects are being financed by private investors.
The business argument for going green
With decarbonisation, digitisation and decentralisation all set to take hold in the global energy sector within a decade or two, it’s certainly an exciting time for the industry. It is no longer a matter of if there are more sophisticated technologies to deal with the transition, but how businesses can apply this emerging tech to their practices to cut their energy bill, maintain their customer base and keep up with the changing market. Thankfully, the infrastructure and tech are there to help them along the way.