Customer focus as smart technology becomes reality at European Utility Week

Published: Thu 17 Oct 2013
A blog entry by Annemarie Roodbol

Contributed by:

Annemarie Roodbol
Senior Communications Manager
Spintelligent

Annemarie Roodbol's Blog

Alliander Mobility Services to drive the uptake of EVs

The customer or end-user in the smart energy market was in focus at the European Utility Week this week as some 8000 utility professionals gathered at the Amsterdam RAI to hear about the latest technology and solutions for a smarter energy society.

Alliander Mobility Services
The brand new Tesla Model S electric car was featured during the launch of Dutch utility Alliander’s new venture:  Alliander Mobility Services, which aims to drive the uptake of EVs (electric vehicles).  Alliander Mobility Services General Manager Anja van Niersen, said during the launch at European Utility Week:  “we want everyone to be able to recharge anywhere, anytime in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.  As we want to grow the market, we are always looking for new partners.  The market is big enough for everyone.”

She continued:  “we want to develop the right business model, open infrastructure for all cooperation with clients and partners, develop specific solutions and incorporate renewable energy.”

At the E-Mobility Park at European Utility Week visitors were able to discover and experience the latest developments in the field of electric mobility. Various partners of Alliander Mobility Services presented concepts, such as inductive charging by Proov, smart charging by EnergyVille, home charging solutions by The New Motion and Blue Corner.  

Alliander Mobility Services stand was dubbed Stratingh Square, named after Sibrandus Stratingh who developed the first electric vehicle in 1832.  

Understanding Customer Behaviour
Customer engagement and how to empower consumers was a popular topic in different conference tracks.  Here are some highlights:

•  Lessons from large-scale field deployment
The failure to reach out and engage customers prior to a smart meter rollout forced one UK energy retailer to revisit 5% of its customers up to 6 times before they could fit a new meter.  This can significantly impact the operational expense of such a rollout says Martin Wells, VP Utilities Head, Capgemini Consulting.  In stark contrast, two projects in Nevada and Michigan managed to keep about 50% of its customers engaged after managing to reach out to them a pre-rollout communications programme which included the use of an App with a game that created awareness in energy efficiency and ownership.

•  Customers’ digital home needs
Speaking on delivering value to the customer in smart homes, Yves Caseau, Executive Vice President, Bouygues Telecom in France, said that although important drivers for customers remained comfort, entertainment, health and security, price was still most important.  He also did not see a positive business case in an offering that only provided energy.

•  The Swedish Experience
“Consumers are more aware of their consumption today”, said Karin Widegren, director of the Swedish Coordination Council for Smart Grid.  The Council has found that factors such as the environment and flexibility can be important drivers for customer engagement, not just price.  Incentives, such as bundle offers with different services combined, could be one option to reach out to customers.

•  Can we save energy by changing our behaviour?
“We are well on track, doing relatively well”, says Anca-Diana Barbu of the European Environment Agency on the progress in the European 2020 energy and climate targets, although energy efficiency remained a problem area.  “It is possible to save 15-20% in energy through consumer behaviour” says the agency’s Project Manager for Energy and Environment, but says customers need a “frame of reference”.

Alliander and Netinium
Network company Alliander announced at European Utility Week that it is to acquire a part of the activities of Netinium, a supplier of multi-vendor head ends and smart energy platforms.  The agreement will give Alliander ownership of the software solution for data communication using smart meters.  Netinium will continue to work on the ongoing development and supply of multi-vendor head ends and smart energy platforms for reading and managing smart meters and smart energy networks for customers in the Netherlands and abroad.

European Utility Week is attended by the utility industry’s leading minds and vendors of the latest technology in the smart energy, at what is the largest industry conference and exhibition on the continent.

Contact:
Communications manager: Annemarie Roodbol
Email: annemarie.roodbol@clarionevents.com
Telephone: +27 825627844