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15 Nov 2017

Reflections on the #ENERGY4.0 conference – which digital business models will dominate the future of energy?

Whilst other industries have been transformed by the advent of digital platforms (think Netflix, Airbnb, and Uber), the energy industry has been left behind, slow to exploit the opportunities that digital revolution makes possible. However all that is changing as many hungry start-ups are developing innovative digital solutions to fill new niches.

"Unprecedented changes that used to be seen as a threat are now viewed as an opportunity." Kristian Ruby, Secretary General, EURELECTRIC, at the #ENERGY4.0 conference.

On 9 November 2017 our #ENERGY4.0 conference brought together 180 delegates from start-ups, established digital companies, utilities, and financiers, to discuss how the energy industry will be reshaped by digitisation and crucially, which business models will be fit for purpose.  This event once again ran in collaboration with EURELECTRIC and built on our previous Customer Focused Energy event held in Brussels last year.

"Unlocking digital innovation is the bedrock of future visions." Proposed by Laszlo Varro, Chief Economist of the IEA, and others at #ENERGY4.0.

Numerous start-ups working on digital offerings in energy

It emerged that incumbent utilities now largely accept that future value will be delivered through digital innovation rather than ownership of network/generation assets.  However it is unclear they will have the patience required for their digital platforms to reach scale before turning to monetisation.  Indeed, the various start-ups may be cautious of partnering with organisations with such a mind-set.

There is no shortage of start-ups working on digital offerings in energy.  The conference hosted key innovators from start-ups in the ‘behind the meter’, ‘peer-to-peer’, and ‘electromobility’ spaces vying to become the Airbnb/Uber of the energy sector. 

Pöyry used the conference to launch its own web-based Pöyry Innovation Link (#PoyryInnovationLink) platform for tracking startups in the energy sector.  This resource provides utilities or venture capital investors an easy and up-to-date access to a marketplace-evaluated ecosystem of energy and energy related startups in Europe. 

A winning business model: open source peer-to-peer data platform?

The event concluded with a Great Balloon Debate, in which four participants competed for the title of “Europe’s most successful energy company of 2025”.  All participants gave compelling accounts for how their companies would achieve this status – yet, after a close vote, Scott Kessler (LO3 Energy) emerged as the audience’s favourite with a vision of a company built on an open source peer-to-peer data platform.

The Great Balloon Debate: what does Europe’s most successful energy company of 2025 look like?

  • We are likely to run a follow-up conference in Autumn 2018. If you are interested in hearing more about this, please email Jonathan Harnett
  • For enquiries about Pöyry Innovation Link please contact Robert Schwarz
  • For all other matters relating to digital transformation in the energy sector please contact Stephen Woodhouse.