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Driving innovation forward within the energy industry

Jan 22, 2021

Written By

Pete Stapleton

Head of New Market Innovation

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We spoke to Pete Stapleton, Head of New Market Innovation at ENSEK about the rapid changes occurring within the energy industry, what’s coming up and how technology plays a vital role moving forward.

From manually processing invoices to developing impactful, automated energy software

I've worked in the energy industry for nearly twenty years. My first role was working for an agency on a temporary contract, where I manually processed thousands of invoices every month.

Over the years I have worked for several energy suppliers and held numerous positions within revenue assurance, sales, operations, billing and transformation.

I have always been fascinated by the complexity and depth of the industry, there isn’t a single day that passes where I am not learning something new.

Driving system change and learning about new technology is what really motivates me. Having the opportunity to join award winning tech company, ENSEK, 18 months ago was an exciting step in my career.

The next 20 years will see the global energy sector go through a massive transition. As Head of New Market Innovation at ENSEK, I’m excited to be working with the team to develop solutions that help transform the industry, make an impact, and remain future-proof.

The ever-changing landscape of energy – from source to consumption

The speed of change across the energy industry is fascinating. The advancement in technology is creating amazing opportunities to innovate how we generate, supply and consume energy.

The need to tackle climate change is the natural driving force behind many of the innovations that are being developed. In the UK, the energy mix is evolving rapidly as we continue to generate more energy from renewable sources.

The UK’s commitment to energy transition and climate change

It's interesting that as a nation, the UK consumes less energy today than we did 50 years ago, despite our population increasing by 6.5 million people. This clearly demonstrates we have become far more efficient in both producing and using it, as have many countries around the globe.

This change is forcing us to think not only about how we source energy, but also how we supply and consume it.

In November 2020, the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, released a Ten Point Plan for climate action. This was the most significant policy intervention for the UK energy industry in nearly ten years, aligning with many other countries who are showing their commitment to tackling climate change.

The rise of EV’s and the impact on grid demand

One of the challenges facing businesses and consumers is the transition to Electric Vehicles (EV’s), which is gathering significant pace.

By 2030 there are predicted to be as many as 10 million Electric Vehicles on the road, rising to 30 million by 2040. This will drive a significant increase in electricity demand and put greater pressure on balancing the grid, as we change our energy consumption patterns.

Technology plays a critical role in enabling the industry to transform for the future. The introduction of innovative products and services is already present, a key focus on tariffs that target EV owners.

There’s also growing support to leverage solar and battery technology to generate renewable energy.

Software and initiatives to support grid demand

At the core of innovative tariffs is the ability to apply time-based pricing, also known as Time of Use.

Time of Use tariffs have been around for many years in the I&C market, where seasonal based contracts are already widely available and drive cost efficiencies.

ENSEK developed its Time of Use solution to support its existing I&C supplier base some time ago. It’s been actively used for several years, allowing suppliers to offer bespoke contracts using a set of seasonal time bandings that can be easily configured.

With the growing impact on grid demand, changes in consumer behaviour and energy consumption, we’ve turned our attention to delivering solutions that support innovation in the consumer market too. The idea in this space is the leverage what’s worked well in I&C for many years, to enable sustainable and scalable options for the residential market.

Adapting to consumer lifestyles with Time of Use options

With the introduction of smart metering, wider adoption of Time of Use tariffs in the domestic market will continue to grow. Research suggests 50% of residential customers will opt for a Time of Use tariff within the next 20 years.

ENSEK’s Time of Use solution is fully integrated to ENSEK’s Ignition platform, a global Software as a Service solution. The integration provides energy suppliers with a scalable option to develop market leading innovative tariffs tailored to specific customer lifestyles.

It supports any type of Time of Use tariff, whether it's a simplistic day and night tariff that supports EV charging during low peak times, or a seasonal based tariff that is fully customised to a smart home lifestyle.

The team at ENSEK are constantly evolving and advancing our product offering to ensure that it fits for future demands and meets the needs of our customers – ENSEK's Time of Use solution is just the beginning.

Looking ahead

It's exciting to think about how technology is already shaping the energy industry and the opportunities that are ahead of us.

The introduction of smart data management solutions is gathering momentum, as is the continued development of products that enable smart energy usage in the home.

Technology that provides flexibility to the grid is expanding and the increasing volume of Electric Vehicles will drive greater demand for vehicle to grid capability.

Leveraging technology that can communicate with the power grid, managing when to export power from battery storage when demand is high, and then charging when demand is lower and cheaper, will inevitably become a critical factor in helping balance the grid during peak demand.

I am looking forward to the challenge ahead and supporting ENSEK's global utility clients to innovate software that is fit for the next generation.

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