Jean-François Segalotto
Jean-François Segalotto (Research Director, IDC Energy Insights)
Gaia Gallotti
Gaia Gallotti (Associate Research Director)
Daniele Arenga
Daniele Arenga (Research Analyst, IDC Energy Insights Europe)

This year’s Enlit Europe, which took place between November 29 and December 1 in Frankfurt, attracted almost 18,000 visitors and 1,000 exhibitors from 100 countries — proving once again to be a reference point for the European (if not worldwide) utility sector.

Sessions on flexibility, energy transition, and digitalization, as well as numerous hub sessions, provided a great opportunity for knowledge sharing during the three-day event. Here are our key takeaways from discussions and debates with technology providers and utilities.

  • European power DSOs are feeling the pinch due to accelerating demand for electrification and distributed generation. One DSO from the DACH region we talked to said it expects requests for PV connections to increase fourfold this year over 2021 in power terms. A Scandinavian operator said it needed to deploy as much capacity by the end of the decade as it had built over the past century. This was expected, of course, as distribution is where most of the energy system transformation is taking place. But things have now spread to a large and diverse cross-section of the power distribution world and DSOs don’t want to become the bottleneck of the energy transition. Distributors urgently need tools to shed light on the LV level of their grid — for planning, operations, and maintenance purposes — and marketplaces to access and procure flexibility in coordination with fellow DSOs and TSOs.
  • Despite the events of the past 10 months, consumers still appear to be an afterthought for most energy suppliers and utilities (and numerous governments) across Europe. With energy and related energy costs top of mind for most customers, it was a great opportunity for companies to create awareness and educate customers on the energy transition, and the critical role they play in making it a reality. But that opportunity has been squandered, with companies failing to deliver on what matters most to customers: high-bill alerts and personalized, meaningful energy efficiency advice. Due to skyrocketing energy prices, energy suppliers are significantly worse off than before in terms of customer satisfaction and net promoter scores. By failing to support customers at a time of need, utilities have failed to change the narrative around them and become trusted energy advisors in the energy transition.
  • As the energy transition accelerates, partnering and co-innovation are becoming critical tools to accelerate the development of solutions designed to respond to this acceleration. These are no longer buzzwords on slideware. Co-innovation between utilities and solution providers is happening on the ground and it is slashing time to market by a factor of three on average. There are hardly any strategic product initiatives by established software providers in this space that are not driven in cooperation with a carefully curated group of end users, leveraging design thinking and agile principles. Partnering between the incumbent enterprise and operational software vendors in the utilities space and their specialty counterparts has also accelerated significantly, offering a new procurement paradigm that combines what we call a platform approach to operations with a new wave of best-of-breed.
  • The industry mantras of electrification, decarbonization, and energy transition continue to be recited despite the impact of the ongoing energy crisis. While the criticality of climate change can’t be neglected, it appears to some extent that the energy crisis has dampened the urgency for some companies and the industry as a whole to invest in making grids reliable for what’s to come. This is a concern, as some areas are already at risk of bottlenecks, as uptake of EVs, heat pumps, etc. increases. There are numerous European initiatives to foster electrification, such as “Fit for 55,” which will end the sale of new CO2-emitting cars in Europe by 2035, and “REPowerEU,” which aims to install 50 million heat pumps by 2030. But this begs the question: Where are we going to get all this power from”

The overall impression is that of an industry chugging along, conscious that it can’t do it alone and increasingly reliant on its partners and innovation with other sectors. We have seen pockets of real disruptive innovation, but for the most part the industry feels a bit weary, and understandably so.

Here’s to brighter times when we meet in Paris at next year’s Enlit Europe.

Spread the love