EY UK Energy blog

Highlights from the YEP Forum: “Can innovation solve the energy trilemma?”

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Posted: Monday, 5 October 2015 at 1.00am

A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to be asked to facilitate the quarterly Young Energy Professionals (YEP) event held at Birmingham University. YEP is a group where the next generation of energy industry professionals meets, networks and shares knowledge. So even to be amongst the young talent of our industry was fascinating enough!

This 2 hour session, organised by RWE, was very well attended by over 150 individuals from utilities from across the UK and Ireland. The topic was “Innovation to Solve the Energy Trilemma”, which sparked excellent debate from across the floor and among our panelists, consisting of Joe Warren (PowerVault), David Hill (Open Energi), Melissa Gander (Ovo Energy) and Alastair Gill (RWE Innogy).

Following an introduction from Gareth Metcalf, RWE npower’s Client Lead, on tackling the specific innovation challenge, the RWE npower team (Kate Zaitschenko, Laura Potter, Peter Brent and David Kitchen) developed an interactive session for the audience that required the selection of various options across a number of potential scenarios. These scenarios ranged from adverse media coverage following a blackout to the increasing price of the average energy bill and finally the addressing of capacity concerns through the development of fracking across the UK. Kate, Laura, Peter and David did a fantastic job in designing a highly interactive and very enjoyable event. The audience’s response to each scenario drove the specific direction of the evening’s discussion.

I was very impressed by the insightful questions asked by a very engaged audience. We discussed at length exciting, new technologies that will help customers be more “intelligent” in their energy usage. There really seems to be an increased focus on innovation to reduce the demand in our home, while also continuing to drive supply-side innovation (e.g. renewables). The discussion moved onto how to help vulnerable customers, focusing on how innovation (e.g. energy storage solutions) could, in the future, be affordable, whilst meeting an achievable benefits case for suppliers. The conversation didn’t only focus on residential customers, but also moved to the B2B marketplace, where innovative techniques are being used more and more to reduce operating costs through Demand Side Management. Finally, we discussed the full Utilities value chain, from customer facing retail activities, through the future Smart Grid implications and the resulting impacts on generation in the UK, and beyond.

Overall it was a very thought-provoking 2 hour debate on innovations’ future positive impact on energy “trilemma” - sustainability, availability and affordability. It certainly displayed how dynamic and forward thinking our industry is and I was proud to be part of it.

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