As we become more environmentally conscious, the energy market will continue its course for drastic change. We don’t know exactly what this change will look like, but we do know where we can focus our predictions for change over the next 12 months, that could impact the sector over the coming years.
One thing that we can confidently predict is the fact that consumers will drive change as their energy requirements for warmth, light and power evolve. Energy providers in 2020 and beyond will potentially offer these services cheaply, cleanly and effectively by taking advantage of new technologies.
It’s now easier than it ever has been to produce green energy. The price of renewable generation apparatus means that it is now available to more consumers, and there’s increased levels of power on the grid. Even to the point in which there can sometimes be too much energy on the grid on sunny or windy days.
This impacts the overall wholesale price of energy, which means that it can sometimes go ‘negative’, which means in effect, there is free energy available. While this is undoubtedly a problem when attempting to manage the grid, the good news is that if savvy consumers can take advantage of these negative energy periods, they can save themselves a good deal of money.
Generally, consumers go to one of the ‘big six’ energy suppliers, yet with an increasing interest in microgeneration, customers can generate their own power and will now have the right to sell their excess solar power back to the grid, as of January 1st 2020. Which, in effect, can make anyone their own energy supplier.
Energy consumers, for the most part, aren’t interested in kWh units or the BTU of gas. They value the warmth and the lighting that these things provide. The energy as a service model that we’ve started to see emerge in 2019 will continue its growth throughout 2020.
As the industry continues to move towards decarbonisation, utility providers, confronted by an increasingly competitive market, are looking for diverse products they can sell besides electricity and gas.
Perhaps aside from providing energy, this sector will expand with products such as home insulation, digital equipment and more localised energy supply and storage options.
Adopting energy-as-a-service means that consumers will have greater control over how their energy is produced, and what impact it might have on the environment; perhaps furthering emphasis on locally produced energy.
Thanks to the increasingly widespread use of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, we could see large scale energy production completely overhauled in favour of localised energy; which will present better value than generating power in just a few large-scale locations.
One of the most significant upsides of decentralised energy is moving away from large scale production to more manageable localised operations. This means that excess heat energy, rather than being wasted – as it is in large power stations – can be used locally. It also means that we avoid producing electricity that is lost in transmission. At the moment, about £9.5 billion worth of electricity is lost before it reaches our homes in the UK.
Now that decentralised energy is becoming more prevalent, it will come down to local producer/consumers – or prosumers – to manage the energy within the system, and smart technology such as energy storage, demand-side response and cloud computing, running alongside data and analytics, could be just the thing to help them do that.
For instance, during important sporting events such as the FA Cup Final or Wimbledon, breaks in play cause a surge in energy demand when everyone gets up to stick the kettle on. To meet this increased demand, other household appliances, such as freezers might be turned down to the minimum required, without impacting the food inside, just for ten minutes to offset the large demand in energy.
As we’ve seen in a lot of industries, the energy market will continue its course to become largely digitised – we’ve seen this in action already to a large extent with smart meters and smart appliances – to enable all facets of energy within a property to work together to offset excess energy waste.
The move to a carbonised, greener future, can only work if big brands get behind the initiative. It’s estimated that the UK cold chain consumes around 14% of all the electricity produced.
Tesco supermarkets recently partnered with tech company IMS Evolve, in a bid to reduce the impact of large scale refrigeration on the UK’s carbon footprint, which could significantly change the way the cold chain consumes energy.
Large-scale initiatives like this, are needed to reinforce industry and public confidence in the idea that big brands can be part of the solution rather than working against it.
Now more than ever, consumers are clued up, and the results are pushing great change in every consumer-centric industry. We predict that consumers will continue to transition from being on the periphery of the energy industry to be at its very heart.
They will continue to have a greater say on where their energy comes from, and how and when they can use it. This gives them greater control over how much their energy costs, which will drive considerable change in the utilities sector as a whole.