Insights from Eliq - Renewable Energy Markets

by Parks Associates | Feb. 11, 2020

Ahead of the Smart Energy Summit, we asked Håkan Ludvigson, CEO and Founder of Eliq, to share his thoughts with us on renewable energy markets, consumer adoption and the shift toward clean energy. He will be joining us for the Energy Management Platforms: Adding Value panel, in addition to:

Shawn Barry, VP Strategic Sales, Alarm.com
Roger Gregory, VP, Product, Ezlo Innovation
Adam Justice, Founder and CEO, ConnectSense
Christopher Keefe, Director - Product Management, Schneider Electric
Paul Williams, GM Product Management & Growth, GE Lighting

This session addresses the platforms that add value through the user experience and available data analytics and will be held on Tuesday, February 18 at 1:00 pm.

Håkan will also be participating in our pre-show research workshop titled Industry Insights: Next Stage of Growth on Monday, February 17 at 1:45 pm, alongside:

Camille Vargas, B2B Marketing Manager, Yonomi
Ken Wacks, President, Home, Building, and Utility Systems

For more information on the upcoming Smart Energy Summit, visit www.ses2020.com.

1. What are the current challenges, new services, and incremental shifts utilities are making to leverage connectivity in the home to save energy on the grid?
We’re seeing utilities struggle with living up to rising customer expectations, continually fighting the notion that the energy bill is something out of customers’ control, almost like a tax.
We’ve seen utilities; traditional and challenger energy suppliers, trying to participate more actively in the home energy technology space, but struggle to acquire customers onto such products in Europe, where trust for the industry is very low and the word “utility” is effectively synonymous with the energy bill.
That said, in the last couple of years, we’ve started to see a push from energy retailers in Europe to digitise and raise the customer experience and help customers save energy as a competitive edge. In the UK, this trend has gained real momentum and we have startup energy retail customers that signed up hundreds of thousands of customers in a couple of year’s time using this strategy.

2. What are successful approaches to demand response that enable customers to have access to backup power, reduce energy bills, and maximize the use of renewable energy, while helping utilities manage distributed energy resources on the grid?
In demand response and grid balancing, we’re seeing the most success and scale in the integration of smart thermostats and electric vehicles, where the demand response program does not need to carry the cost of hardware and installation upfront. With the growing prevalence of connected EVs and smart thermostats, we also believe more complex and responsive dynamic tariffs will help making the intra-day market more liquid and responsive to network hotspots and power availability. Dynamic tariffs have been introduced at scale in Scandinavia, where pricing adapts every hour to the market conditions and appliances may respond accordingly.

3. How are you optimizing smart home bundling?
We find that many customers are frustrated that although their thermostats, PV inverters, EVs and chargers all come with their own user interface, there is no central experience that can help them form a full picture of how energy is used in the home, or give insight in relation to the cost or earnings from those products. We believe utilities are best positioned to take this role, as they have exclusive access to demand response programs, whole home energy usage data as well as the full tariff structure of the customer.
Eliq provides utilities with the customer facing hub and UI to make bring those technologies together.

4. What is the impact of direct consumer participation in energy markets?
Firstly, it helps solving capacity problems for utilities both at local and a central level, at lower cost than reinforcement of the network and generation. Secondly, it really helps accelerating the energy transition by giving customers a better business case for energy efficient technology investments.

5. What are strategies to increase consumer engagement?
To raise customer engagement, customers must be given something of real value that interacts with customers in the way they interact with other brands.
In the ultra-competitive energy markets in Europe, where many energy suppliers fight churn of up to 30% and even above, the market has forced the creation of tools that customers really value enough to stay with their supplier. Home Energy Reports just doesn’t cut it when it comes to making a meaningful impact anymore – customers want apps that bring them real-time, actionable insight.
However, in order to earn a space on the customer’s phone you’ll really need the app to live up to the experience of other apps customers care about.
Specifically, we’ve found that personal notifications, alerts and energy savings advice become very effective when trained by user’s thumbs up/down feedback, but customers also appreciate bill forecasts, energy usage categories and feedback on heater efficiency problems.

6. What are the barriers to adoption for solar, EV and storage companies?
I believe there is a missed opportunity right now in fully leverage the flexibility potential and capturing its value, much as a result of fragmentation of standards and a lack of integration with utilities. If these technologies can be fully leveraged as flexibility assets on the grid, the business case would be much more attractive from an end-customer point of view.
For these companies, I believe forming partnerships with utilities is going to be a key to achieve this over the coming years.

7. What innovations are driving consumer adoption of energy management?
Although I wouldn’t call Smart Metering a recent innovation by any means – in fact, some European countries have now been 100% smart metered for over a decade – its data is now starting to be used to create both more intelligent and compelling energy management propositions, but also to match customers with the best technologies in a much more personal way, and sometimes with innovative payment plans, such as “pay-as-you-save” or “heating-as-a-service” propositions. It’s still early days though and most of the opportunity is still there.

8. How are energy management platforms adding value (i.e. user experience, data analytics)?
As Eliq, our role is to enhance the customer experience around energy, through white label mobile apps and energy service portals (ESPs), which replace traditional self-service portals. These products are underpinned by energy analytics and AI, which help empowering customers to make better decisions and managing their connected smart energy appliances, such as rooftop PV, EV chargers and thermostats.
Although the usage of our platform is driven by the customers’ willingness to understand and manage their energy usage and cost, much of the value it creates is in driving down customer service costs and paper billing. We really enable utilities to establish a real-time communications channel with their customers, which makes customers self-serve and place fewer calls to call-centers, switch from paper to electronic billing and increase program enrolment. For energy retailers, there is additional benefit in reduced churn cost.

9. How is the impact of voice and AI effecting consumers and the future role they will play in driving energy efficiency solutions?
AI has already started to have a serious impact on the customer experience side, for behavioural analytics, to identify consumption anomalies and learn the personal preferences of each household. I believe most product companies in the customer experience field are investing significantly in data science and analytics.
Voice assistants are great tools for customers to have certain information readily accessible to solve everyday problems and I think it is almost going to become hygiene to offer voice capabilities down the road in order to live up to basic customer expectations. It may not be a significant driver of continuous engagement with customers, but offers a convenient way to control EV charging and thermostat settings.

10. How is the adoption of distributed energy and electric vehicle ownership impacting the grid?
The grid is taking an extreme hit with local hotspots as a result as the adoption of EVs increases. At Eliq, we serve utilities in Norway, which has become the world’s most EV-dense country and where Tesla has been the no. 1 sold car for a while. We have seen first hand the massive cost utilities have had to take on to keep power up and running in some areas. Utilities are employing a variety of options to cope with the sudden power spikes, many of which involve load-shifting of heat and chargers.

11. What is the impact of 5G on the utility markets? How does it impact the consumer?
Although we may still be a few years from seeing the real impact of 5G, we expect to see a continued rise of connectivity, and in particular more new products becoming more plug and play, without relying on wi-fi setup, which for some products is a real problem and big source of customer contact for technology companies.

12. How are renewable energy options effecting a community?
Research shows that by enabling individuals directly understand how they contribute to a common community goal, and demonstrating the behaviour of others, they become much more likely to change their behaviour to help achieving that common goal.
By giving customers the opportunity to make a choice and understand the impact of their choice, we are helping shift the norm.

13. What shifts, if any, is your company making towards clean energy?
As a technology company that specializes in making energy understandable, and energy efficiency obtainable for customers, our success is directly linked with carbon reduction and the acceleration of the energy transition.
 



Next: 5G and the Utility Market - Insights from Sprosty Network
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