“Do any of you here honestly believe that your customers like you?” was the question utility professionals were asked during the opening session of European Utility Week at the Amsterdam RAI (15-17 Oct). Engaging customers in the utility industry was an important theme, including marketing and advertising guru Peter Economides’ keynote address, who informed the audience that there was not a single energy company among the Top 50 brands in 2012. “Remarkable”, he said, “yet nothing exists without energy. People don’t think about energy until they don’t have it. Energy needs branding, it needs it desperately. It needs to connect with its consumers.”
Peter Economides warned the audience that “consumers can make or break you” and that “energy needs a narrative to talk to the audience about what is important to the audience.” Utility companies were also advised to “create a strong culture about what you are doing and why you are doing it. And use the newly empowered consumer through social media.”
From consumer to “prosumer”
The word consumer is not mentioned a single time in the European Commission’s “Energy Roadmap 2050” says Remco Zinkweg, one of the Young European Energy Professionals (YEEPS), who were asked to evaluate the document and give their vision of what the European energy markets will look like in 2050. YEEPS sees the energy industry placing the “consumer in the middle, forming local energy communities that have more transparent, local energy prices.”
According to the YEEPS report: “in spite of the various technological and regulatory challenges, the key aspect of making decentralized generation work is getting the consumers onboard. The change in their role, from purely consuming to “prosuming” (producing and consuming), means they will have to significantly change their behavior.”
Siemens’ energy systems of the future
The CEO of Siemens Smart Grids division, Dr Jan Mrosik, gave his vision on the steps necessary for the energy systems of the future. According to Dr Mrosik, three drivers in the industry, namely sustainability, economic efficiency and security of supply, need to be balanced.
Siemens is the diamond sponsor of this year’s European Utility Week which is attended by industry’s leading minds and vendors of the latest technology in the smart energy industry, at what is the largest industry conference and exhibition on the continent.
This year’s event has an overarching theme: “Pulling in one direction” which all the keynote speakers referred to. Delegates were encouraged to join forces and pull in one direction to create synergies within the industry and secure energy supplies for generations to come.
Have a look at www.european-utility-week.com for more highlights of the event.