Research- Taking the Energy Sector To the Next Level

Young talent and research institutions are equipping utilities with new and innovative business models, products and services.
Published: Fri 04 Dec 2015

Digitization and the new energy customer, whose needs have become a lot more complex, are forcing the energy sector to change. The sector needs to rely more on research and young talent to take it forward to the energy system of tomorrow. We invited two experts to our studios at European Utility Week to describe the value that research has to offer the energy industry.

Young talent brings innovation

Gudrun Weinwurm, Research Coordinator Energy and Environment, TU Vienna, says that the goal of her department is to enhance collaboration within the university between different departments, as well as collaboration with the energy industry, authorities and international corporations. The department aims to bring together researchers from various disciplines so as to create integrated and innovative solutions for the energy industry.

The University, which was involved at European Utility Week’s young talent programme, carries out independent research and is able to bring new, innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to the energy industry.

She points out that this tactic creates a win-win situation for both the university students and the energy industry. “The University can learn about what the industry needs and the industry gets fresh approaches and ideas from the University.We connect basic research with applied research which can be very helpful for the energy industry.”

The University, in conjunction with the local utility, also offers a doctoral programme in urban energy and mobility systems. “Students get a hands-on experience of how the utility provider acts and what is currently relevant to the sector.”

Research designing new business models

Dr Eduardo Zabala, head of the electric vehicle programme, TECNALIA, talks about the goals of the research group which has many focus areas, one of which includes the energy industry.

One of the largest research institutions in Europe, most of their focus is on smart grid development. The group assists with the certification and assessment of products to help utilities further their plans.

The group works alongside the energy industry and a global scientific community which provides support on applied research and technological development.

Given TECNALIA's technological specialisation, their services are aimed at numerous industries within the energy sector, from the characterisation of materials in the wind sector to the assessment of electrical equipment.

He discusses how their research enables utilities to create new business models for the future energy system and customer.