Supporting the Customer Transformation

Start-ups are seeing some real value in the transformation of the energy consumer.
Published: Mon 07 Dec 2015

The consumer of tomorrow wants to be more proactive when it comes to generation, consumption and energy trading and there are a number of market entrants who are developing some innovative ideas around this new consumer. We spoke to some of these innovators at our studios at European Utility Week.

Different approach to gaining customer trust

Anna Lewis, partnership co-ordinator of Ovo Communities, Ovo Energy, says that their strategy was designed around the fact that customers in the UK tend not to switch suppliers even if the tariffs are high and service is poor. Ovo Energy labels these customers as “sticky“. The reason for this, she explains, is because customers don’t believe that the next energy supplier will be any better.

In response to this, the Ovo Communities initiative was established. Basically, councils and housing associations take the place of energy suppliers and sell energy directly to residents. Apparently, people trust these entities more than traditional utilities and so this acts as direct competition to the UK’s Big Six.

The initiative has been extremely successful and customers are saving money as a result. Ms Lewis advises the energy sector: “It’s important to think far ahead into the future when designing business models. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box."

This initiative has won the European Utility Week Utility Initiative Award.

Creating a market place for sustainable energy

Matthijs Guichelaar, founder and COO of Vandebron, talks about their platform where sustainable producers can sell energy directly to consumers, making renewable energy available on a large scale.

The startup has developed an online peer-to-peer energy marketplace, on which anyone who generates renewable energy can sell their yield directly to consumers. The premise of the founders is that this renders the big corporations obsolete, which they believe is essential to accelerate the transition to a market that uses solely renewable energy.

Only renewable energy sources will be listed on Vandebron. Consumers are then free to choose their supplier based on these types, and other variables such as pricing, and location. 

Vandebron won the European Utility Week Smart Community Award.

Shifting the control landscape

Erik Nygard, CEO, Limejump Ltd, describes how the company helps end customers and small scale generators to be more active particpants in the energy market. A technology-driven utility, Limejump provides distributed generators and businesses full market access. All the benefits that are available to large power plants are now made available to smaller businesses such as farmers. In essence, they become proactive energy market particpiants which has yet to happen at scale, he says.

He believes that control in the energy market should travel further down the train instead of sitting with the utility.

“To enable this shift, we have built a system that manages and provides distributed control to customers. We are building this platform to enable customers to take advantage of market opportunities. We want to give customers and small-scale generators uncomplicated access to the market through quality software. The aim to to provide customers with the same opportunities that traditional power plants currently have. Basically, we are shifting the control landscape.”