If the policy framework conditions are set right, however, solar plus storage can today be installed even without subsidies. BYD supplied 10 MW of solar modules and a 6 MW storage system for a subsidy free solar+storage power plant in the UK, the first of its kind in the country. “Such a platform enables storage providers, distributed generators and assets to participate in grid balancing schemes, such as dynamic frequency response markets, ancillary services, etc.,” said Lin. The Return on Invest is estimated to be achieved in around 5-6 years, she said.
Traditional utilities need to re-invent themselves
“Energy transitions, the digital revolution and customer empowerment are the key challenges for the utility industry today,” said Marianne Boust, Managing Consultant at Capgemini Consulting. “As digital start-ups are emerging at every stage of the solar value chain, traditional utilities must seize the opportunities that solar-plus-storage offer before the competition does,” she added. Boust presented a case study about Dutch utility Eneco, which has developed a Smart Home IoT Hub platform called Toon as part of its transformation from a utility into an energy service provider. Designed as a smart home solution, Toon integrates a smart thermostat, energy insights and a smart home hub into one ‘single-to-use’ product. “This creates a daily customer interaction which results in increased customer satisfaction, better customer retention and a higher NPS score,” emphasised Boust. Eneco has even created an open API for the Toon platform, which allows third-part developers to programme extra apps and integrate new services. While this is a typical “make” example for a utility to get into the software value chain, Eneco has also pursued the “buy” path – and acquired innovative German clean energy supplier Lichtblick.
Many traditional utilities, in particular mid-size utilities, are missing the right strategy to address the digital energy transformation. One utility company on the forefront embracing the energy revolution is Enel from Italy. “You can play the game, watch the game, or change the game,” said Enel Green Power Chief Innovation Officer Ricardo Amoroso in his talk “Towards the New Power Economy”. Enel has decided to change the game, moving from a ‘traditional strategic focus’ to a ‘Fast Strategy & Strategic Agility’ (see slide). Part of this strategy is acquisitions, such as the takeover of demand-response/management leader Enernoc. The Enel X strategy is to address new customer needs with innovative technologies: the e-Industries (including distributed generation, energy efficiency, demand response and demand side management), e-Mobility (including private charging wall-boxes, maintenance and vehicle2grid), e-Home (including automated home management, financial services, home2grid) and the e-City (including smart lighting, fiber wholesale network, DG & DMR) – together these services will ensure that the future will be totally ‘electric’.