Daniele Arenga
Daniele Arenga (Research Analyst, IDC Energy Insights Europe)

This year’s Enlit Europe, which took place between November 28 and November 30 in Paris, attracted almost 12,000 visitors,700 exhibitors from 100 countries and 500 speakers, — proving once again to be a reference point for the European (if not worldwide) utility sector.

Sessions on the energy transition (energy efficiency, electrification and decarbonization), flexibility, 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.

Among the conversations with various utility leaders, three key themes emerged that outline the direction in which this industry is moving.

  • Flexibility at the heart of energy transformation. One of the dominant conversations that continued this year at Enlit is the growing criticality of flexibility for the utility industry. With increasing renewable energy sources and the need to integrate distributed energy resources more effectively, utilities are increasingly focusing on operational flexibility. Additionally, booming electrification requires demand flexibility to mitigate the impact of the energy transition on grids, which are the invisible enabler of it all. Industry representatives stressed the importance of investing in technologies and systems that enable more dynamic grid management, ensuring more efficient and sustainable energy distribution and consumption.
  • The imperative of marketing. Another interesting aspect that emerged during the event was the growing success of utilities that understand the value of marketing, to change customers’ perception of their company and the industry as a whole, while improving their relationship with consumers. Utilities that have invested in understanding consumer needs and have built strong brands are reaping the benefits. Utilities are at the heart of a transformation that impacts everyone and will set the stage for the next generations, if done right and marketed well, companies can turn misconception of the industry on its head, leading to newfound success.
  • What about Generative AI? Despite growing interest over the last year, the topic of GenAI was not as apparent as we would have expected. Discussions we had were more focused on the benefits of horizontal applications of GenAI and very rarely on industry specific use cases that utilities should be digging into. Currently, the discourse on GenAI tends to be more high-level than practical, with utilities trying to figure out how to integrate this technology effectively into their daily operations. The largely uncharted territory of GenAI also raised additional conversations around artificial intelligence and machine learning overall and the untapped potential that still exists. And it all came back to the topic of “data” … the quality of the data, the frequency of the data, the amount of data, etc. The challenge now is for utilities to translate high-level discussions into concrete and practical action, successfully addressing industry challenges and capitalizing on emerging opportunities. And for this they need the help of their peers and the technology ecosystem that surrounds them.

Overall, it was positive to see an Enlit returning to its pre-COVID bustle, with a diverse pool of companies exhibiting on the floor, both from a software and a hardware perspective. Let’s hope the onsite enthusiasm trickles into utilities daily activities fostering more drive to the energy transition.

Here’s to quickening progress in 2024 to be discussed when we meet in Milan at next year’s Enlit Europe.

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