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Six takeaways from European Utility Week 2019

European Utility Week in Paris this year saw over 18,000 visitors cross its doors. We had our own stand there, where we met clients new and old, and we presented on two of the hottest topics in new energy at hub sessions: electric vehicles and demand-side flexibility.

Following the event, the team decided to summarise their key takeaways. We’d be interested to know your thoughts on what we considered the standout themes and whether you agree with us.

More software, less hardware.

Attending European Utility Week in previous years often felt like moving from one huge stand to the next. Many exhibitors were large companies with giant booths, showing their hardware off to potential utility customers.

The event this year was a real melting pot of companies – many more start-ups, software-led companies, and a few emobility providers. Google and Microsoft showed off their energy data and  smart home products. It was more about software rather than hardware, and the associated services and solutions.

Where was the EV sector?

Given electric vehicles are one of the hottest topics in new energy, we expected to see a lot of EV players in attendance. While there was still definitely plenty of energy around the topic, the huge buzz we expected just wasn’t there.

To us, it’s part of our overall view that the electricity world and the EV world still have a lot further to go to come together. In the future, there’s doubt they will overlap more, but for now there’s still a huge amount more to do for these two worlds to come together and work effectively together.

We are on the journey towards customer-centric propositions and service-based models

As in previous years, several energy insight vendors attended the event and our own Arthur Jouannic joined Eliq for a breakfast event on how they’re developing their energy insights business. That being said, there is still a lack of customer-centricity being shown in general, with a focus on showing off technology rather than demonstrating strong customer propositions.

More investor interest and appetite

A large number of investors were in attendance, seeing the opportunity in new energy – particularly around the customer end of the value chain. From our discussions, there is a growing appetite to invest in the new energy space – and growing interest towards the customer end of the value chain. We don’t see a shortage of interest and capital, but of course investment cases need to be underpinned by compelling business models, which in some cases are still work in progress.

Old generation finds its place in new energy

Powergen Europe, the leading exhibition for the engine and turbine world, this year was colocated alongside European Utility Week. These companies, even though many focus on cogeneration, are viewed by some as part of old energy. This sector has now successfully changed its narrative around its role in new energy – focusing on how flexible generation and dispatchable power generation complement intermittent renewables. Local energy systems and microgrids are increasingly discussed, as well as using low carbon or zero carbon gas rather than fossil fuels.

Flexibility across the whole value chain: from the home to the wider electricity system

Demand-side flexibility was a big topic. It’s not a new topic, but its profile continues to grow, and its now engaging all parts of the electricity value chain. Home energy management companies were showing how they are aggregating demand from the home, for example, parcelling it up in a platform or virtual power plant. System operators were talking about using demand-side resources more and more. We spoke at a session chaired by the European Federation of Energy Traders on the topic of flexibility, and we are seeing DSOs using more and more flexibility. It’s a topic that’s gaining more and more momentum.  

Find out more about our thoughts in the latest episode of Talking New Energy.

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