"There’s excitement in the energy sector – but also impatience"
Frauke Thies is executive director of smartEn, the European business association for digital and decentralised energy solutions, focussing on the interaction of demand and supply in an integrated system. We asked her about the future of the market and why the industry has to become more diverse.
- What are the big trends and challenges facing your members?
The big changes in the energy sector – digitalisation, decentralisation and decarbonisation – are giving rise to entirely new business models and opportunities. One very interesting factor is the changing role of consumers and prosumers in the energy system, whether that’s households or industrials. That’s driven by many things, such as the uptake of electric vehicles, consumers who are realising that renewables are becoming the cheapest sources of electricity and are looking at how they can self-generate or source directly, as well as industrials making use of innovative services and automation to valorise energy flexibility in their manufacturing processes.
Of course this doesn’t come without challenges. Some of those challenges are simply about removing barriers and allowing these new business models to emerge. Energy is a hugely regulated sector, but the rules were written before these innovative solutions existed, and the new business models are struggling. Also the whole structure of taxes and charges hasn’t yet fully taken into account the way the market has changed.
Interested to learn more about SmartEn and its activities? Check out the publication below
- What are you excited about at European Utility Week 2018?
For me, European Utility Week is firstly about seeing what are the new trends, business models and technologies in the energy transition. The second thing is the networking – meeting people from the sector and exchanging information and ideas. There are so many questions to get to grips with: what are the new business models, who’s going to be running with them, what is the roles of energy users, local communities, service providers, and system operators in this new energy world, how is this all evolving... These are some of the aspects we’ll hear about in the session I’m chairing on Wednesday 7 November.
- How would you describe the feeling in the energy sector right now?
Among the innovators there’s clearly a feeling of excitement, but also impatience. When are we finally going to overcome the barriers in the system that are holding back change? When is it going to be possible to roll out these business models? There are still challenges and a lot of uncertainty. people are eager to move, but they’re also cautiously assessing where the market is going. We’re hoping the European Clean Energy Package legislative deal will be closed in December. That could bring some clarity and remove many of the barriers for new service providers – aggregators, for example – to enter the market.
- You’re taking part in an all-woman panel at EUW. How does that feel?
I find it very motivating. Diversity is improving in the sector but it’s still not uncommon to be in all male rooms. The ultimate objective shouldn’t be that we now have all-women panels all over the place, but just that diversity in energy becomes common sense. It’s clear that with the energy transition we’re not just looking at a change of technology but at really quite profound socioeconomic changes – we’re looking at a system that requires a lot of creative new ideas, and it’s a no-brainer that the more diversity we have, the more ideas we’ll come up with. We can’t afford not to be diverse if we want the best solutions.
10 great women speakers not to miss at European Utility Week
Frauke will be chairing an all-women panel discussing how businesses can prosper in the digital and decentralised energy system of the future.
9:30, Wednesday 7 November
Blockchain isn’t just the future of energy trading: it’s already here. At EUW 2018, you can hear from Ana, one of the founders of Grid Singularity, which is developing an open, decentralised energy data exchange platform. Ana will be chairing a discussion on how blockchain is democratising energy.
11:30, Wednesday 7 November
Lovisa is CEO of Swedish DSO Tekniska Verken Linköping Nät. She’s also a VP at GEODE, an industry association representing local energy distributors across Europe. Lovisa is taking part in a panel discussion on doing business in a digital and decentralised energy system.
10:10, Wednesday 7 November
Sandra will be speaking on the role of the aggregator, as well as taking part in a discussion on startup regulation and regional differences.
11:30 and 15:10, Wednesday 7 November
As VP with responsibility for electricity markets at the Danish electricity system operator, Energinet, Signe will give the transmission system operator’s perspective on adapting to energy’s digitalised and decentralised future.
9:40, Wednesday 7 November
How can energy companies reinvent their business models in the face of digitalisation? That’s exactly the question that the Blue Minds Company helps organisations to answer. Lorena Skiljan, a partner at Blue Minds, will speak about the rise of the digital citizen and what it means for the future of energy.
11:40, Thursday 8 November
Innogy’s Elke Temme is right at the centre of the e-mobility revolution: she’s responsible for 17,000 charging points in more than 20 countries. Elke will be sharing her expertise on the last day of EUW 2018 in a discussion on low-carbon mobility.
10:00, Thursday 8 November
Want to know how blockchain will impact the energy world? Find out from Joanna Hubbard, one of the founders of Electron, which is using the technology to advance the shared infrastructure of the energy markets. Hubbard believes blockchain won’t just help decarbonise the energy sector, it will democratise it.
12:00, Wednesday 7 November
Pirjo is Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Finnish energy utility Helen. She is also an ambassador of youth involvement in energy. She’ll be chairing this session where young people in the industry will discuss what the energy world can learn from the next generation.
15.30, Wednesday 7 November
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