Death, Taxes, And Energy: The Future Of The Energy Economy

Simon King

Nothing is certain but death and taxes … and these days, our insatiable need for energy to power our 21st century livelihoods. As a result, there is an inevitable change coming for consumers as the Energy and Natural Resources industry continues to get turned on its head. What does the future look like?

Here are five thoughts:

Your energy profile will be more important than your social media profile

This will represent a small shift for my fellow “digital natives” and me (i.e., those of us born towards the end of Gen Y and in the millennial generation), but will be a large change for anyone considered a “digital migrant.” With the explosion of the Internet of Things, Big Data analytics, and our increasing desire to trade in the information economy, the future digital retail utility will become the “informed seller,” and it will be up to you as a consumer to remain an informed buyer.

Time-of-use metering will create winners and losers

I don’t know where the idea came from that time-of-use (ToU) metering will be the answer to rising household energy prices, but it is way off base. Yes, knowing your costs can help you shape your spend, but it offers far more benefit to generator-retailers (aka “gentailers”) that can curb peak demand either through pricing mechanisms like residential demand tariffs or trading discounts for control of appliances within your home. This is directly related to consumers needing to better understand how their usage is reflected in what could essentially become a smart-meter driven, minute-by-minute pricing matrix.

Coming to an energy app near you: state of the art cybersecurity

Get ready to start using thumbprint scans, longer passwords with multiple special characters, and facial recognition to access your energy profile. That’s just on the consumer side, let alone the heavy investments energy organizations will be directing towards their back-end systems. The simple way of looking at it is anything you put a sensor on that connects to a smart meter will at some point be outside of your control. Be prepared for an Apple iTunes version of the terms of service when it comes to future energy app updates. The only difference being that you might want to think about reading them in their entirety.

Keep up with the Joneses, and then sell them electricity

The line between being a consumer and a retailer is going to continue to blur as the barriers to entry lower (in theory…) to allow neighborhood-based grid networks with the ability to trade excess energy. As feed-in tariffs drop off a cliff at the end of this year, early adopters of rooftop solar are looking at alternative options to continue to maximize their return on investment. The ability to sell to your neighbor at a rate somewhere between the new feed-in tariff and the market rate of their current retailer would be a win-win for everybody except the purchaser’s current energy provider. Of course, this depends on legislation being enacted allowing participants outside of the traditional market powers, something regulators haven’t exactly won awards for so far.

The energy “concierge”

The call center of the future will be highly automated. Moving house? Fill out the online form, hit enter, and move on. Bill inquiry? Check your app, all the information you need will be updated in real time and available 24/7. Replacing the customer service representative will be a concierge-style role who will be your conduit in to everything electronic. Looking for a new television that matches your energy profile? Say no more, your concierge will guide you through your options and arrange delivery and installation from your local TV store. You can also expect proactive input on when an appliance should be replaced to lower your energy footprint.

All of these thoughts about the future boil down to energy consumers needing to take control of their energy footprint, understand how it will migrate to the new energy economy, and seek to exploit the opportunities that will undoubtedly be available to informed consumers. Now is not the time to allow your new fridge with its smart sensors to be more environmentally conscious than you.

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About Simon King

Simon King is a Senior Customer Solution Manager at SAP focused on the Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) industry. He has 10 years experience in the ENR space and 30 years experience as a “digital native”. His background includes Enterprise Software sales, team leadership and helping people navigate the information economy. In his current role, he is helping to drive digital transformation in the ENR industry and is actively involved in driving the consumer uptake of renewable energy.