Consumer energy customer event 2019: The energy market now in 4D

The annual retail customer event – Setting the course for net zero, was held on 19 November. Delegates heard from seven speakers discussing how finance, transport, heat, consumers and regulation could be utilised to help GB meet its 2050 net zero target.

The event began with Gareth Miller Cornwall Insight’s CEO emphasising that “we are experiencing one of the biggest periods of transformation the GB energy market has ever seen”.

Weaved throughout the afternoon was the “4Ds”: decarbonisation, decentralisation, democratisation and digitalisation. These were described as the four fundamental drivers of this transformational change the market is currently undergoing.

Decarbonisation finally has a focal point, with reaching net zero becoming an objective for the whole of GB, albeit that the speed and the path to take is still being debated. The move has been a catalyst for change, with Gareth highlighting that the decarbonisation objective was radically starting to reshape the market and featured heavily in every one of the speakers’ presentations.

Decentralisation has moved away from previous discussions of how a distributed asset will connect to a network. It appears that the market is moving towards “much smaller units of consumption, storage and generation even at the household level”. According to the presenters, the market is starting to shift to behind the meter, and as a result, it is expected that more integrated service offerings will begin to emerge

Thirdly, democratisation. Gareth explained that currently “we are at a tipping point from what consumers want and expect from energy”. With global protests on climate change, consumers are more aware of the issues. This has moved the political debate on from price and whether it is fair to a much broader discussion about the role of energy to improve the environmental circumstances across the world

The final D, digitalisation, is relatively new and the sector was described as only just starting to get to grips with this pillar of change. New tech-driven businesses are entering the market and are expected to have a profound effect on “the engagement, interaction and management of the consumer energy supplier relationship”. As the retail market evolves, there will likely be a greater focus on the customer experience, and digitalisation is set to play a vital role in this.

It is the digitalisation area that was a key feature of the event and culminated in the launch of Cornwall Insight’s Connected Home Insight Service. A connected home is a home with multiple integrated devices that can be easily controlled to create a safe, comfortable and convenient environment.

The Insight Service focuses on the changing landscape of comfort and convenience, security and wellness technologies and highlights emerging strategies of those operating in the connected homes space and their routes to market. It identifies the opportunities and challenges in the key areas as well as the commercial market.