Each year it is said that European Utility Week is bigger and more wide-ranging than the previous year, writes Jonathan Spencer Jones, content analyst at Engerati.This year is no exception with the pace and extent of development that is occurring in the sector, not only within Europe itself but globally. To find out what is exercising minds and will be among topics of discussion, Engerati was at the event’s 2016 Advisory Committee Meeting. [Shaping the energy future for Barcelona 2016] Consumers. Consumers. Consumers. This was a central theme in all the panel groups at the meeting. Today’s energy customers expect more on all levels from better services and prices to increased flexibility to choose and control their energy usage. But what are utilities doing to meet these demands? What about the shared risk paradigm? And what can still be expected? Are we just at the start of the energy revolution?
Innovation requires 'young talent'
Going forward, innovation is going to be crucial both at the technological and business levels. But in an exclusive interview Maikel van Verseveld, CEO at OMNETRIC Group, indicated that innovation is by no means industry-wide. [The move to innovativeness still not industry-wide] With the increasing complexity of the industry the skillsets required are expanding, he says. He advocates strongly for cultivating the innovation and mindsets of ‘young talent’. The sector should collaborate with universities to attract the right talent and their ideas should lead to new ways of working.
While there is huge potential for energy efficiency and other energy measures in industry and commercial buildings, much of it is largely untapped due to the difficulty in financing such projects, which are too small for the traditional investment houses. To redress this the Sustainable Energy Asset Framework (SEAF) is being developed as a platform to bring together all the parties – the ESCO, insurer and investor. “We estimate that as much as 85% of the market is out of reach and largely underserved by financial institutions,” Jessica Stromback, chair and SVP Europe at Joule Assets, which is leading the project, told Engerati. [SEAF – Advancing energy efficiency funding in Europe] €15 million of investment, saving up to 18GWh of electricity per year, is targeted over the 2-year project lifetime.
With about 20% of their energy supply from renewables, cities offer huge potential for scaling up these technologies. Buildings and transport, the largest consumers, should be priorities, a new study from IRENA argues. However there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution and it will vary greatly on factors such as the population density, stage of development, growth prospects and the energy demand patterns, which in turn vary according to whether it is in a hot or cold climate. IRENA advises the need for a holistic plan based on a complete rethink of the energy system and how users interact with it. [Smart city renewable energy opportunity]