Category Archives: Utilities

#Utility #Startup engagement model- Things that will work!

This blog post is a follow up to the earlier one I did upon my return from the European Utility Week held last year in Amsterdam. Since then I have also been tracking some of the initiatives run by European Utilities in terms of startup engagement.

European Utilities (most if not all) have seem to got the formula right when it comes to engaging with startups (spotting opportunities). I think a lot of them have realised the importance of looking “outside” when it comes to acquiring new business line or developing something that helps them service their customers better.

Things that utilities in SE Asia and Asia Pacific region can learn?

  1. Open up– Instead of asking a startup what you can do for us, throw them a certain challenge or a problem statement. You know what to do when they accept the challenge and then go on to overcome that or solve the problem statement.
  2. Beyond barriers– Helps if a part of the organisation can go beyond barriers, think as if there is no box. Astounding that when utility professionals ( thats because of the available solutions) talk about customer engagement they often limit themselves to residential customers. For most utilities, consistent revenue stream would come from small, large and multi site businesses. If they can engage better with them or offer them suite of add on services, there is nothing like it. Startups are the perfect way to beta test that hypothesis, few top/difficult customers is all you need to get started.
  3. Embrace There are some ideas that can only be tested by trying, thinking too much on trying to justify the reason to do it, may not be beneficial. There is so much happening in the utility space that you never know what might as well work out better, there is always an edge if you have that “Ace” card. There are things that every company would do, there are things that you might want to launch as a market leader.

Would love to know your thoughts on the same?

Best Regards,

Umesh Bhutoria

Why not to leave Industries behind in the #EnergyEfficiency conversation?

Greetings from Melbourne!

Yesterday I saw a twitter post from ACEEE that kind of spoke about how companies could do more on investing in #EnergyEfficiency. I have engaged in so many offline and online conversations around #EnergyEfficiency, often see that Industries get the last spot!

Without  a shadow of doubt the residential, commercial buildings and the “space cooling” markets are extremely relevant as they have direct connect with consumers, utilities (often state run) have it in their interest to manage the demand- supply situation. But spare a thought, globally industries contribute to around 36% of the total energy consumption.

Industrial #EnergyEfficiency becomes more important for emerging or developing economies who are into manufacturing of goods or delivering services that are energy intensive. Take the case of Bangladesh, Industries account for over 40% of the total energy consumption, out of which the Textile sector contributes to more than half of the consumption.

Completely understand that every narrative of selling #EnergyEfficiency is part of a bigger “narrative” which may or may not bear the same relevance for each country. I speak for emerging / developing economies, here is how policy makers and think thanks look to change the narrative on Industrial #EnergyEfficiency and make it work:-

  1. Industrial #EnergyEfficiency has direct connect with #EnergyProductivity, which is a better macro indicator when it comes to tracking economic output vis-a-vis energy consumed. #EnergyProductivity should become the default indicator for all energy performance assessments and target setting in Industries
  2. Have an Industrial policy that is forward looking, integrates aspects like Industry40, IIoT. A country may have the best of Energy Efficiency norms, but a policy that supports import of outdated equipments (linked to process) may not get them anywhere.
  3. Some of the sectors, especially in the Small Businesses (SME segment) (Foundry, Forging etc) have often had problems in taking up new technologies or processes that can help them have transformational change. Open up these challenges under Industry-Startup partnerships, let them solve the problem and deploy solution at scale.
  4. Foster sectoral-regional collaboration, create mechanisms in which insights could benefit the sector at large. Understand “sharing of Data” is a challenge, there are business models and use cases one could look at and attempt to overcome these challenges.

Emerging/ developing economies rely significantly on manufacturing as against to services. Any form of inefficieny has a direct link to macro socio-economic indicators of that country.

Would love to know your thoughts?

Best Regards,

Umesh Bhutoria

 

3 Super Key Takeaways (for Indian Utilities) from #EUW17

Greetings!

Back from an awesome trip to Amsterdam, i attended my first ever European Utility Week and it was truly an amazing and enriching experience. EnergyTech Ventures was one of the 50 startups present at the Initiate Hub!

As entrepreneurs we often tend to work in silos, event’s like these help us validate assumptions, seek different perspectives (often the ones that are kind of not what we would have ever got earlier) and also understand how different markets behave/operate.

Moving on from personal learning to focusing on India specific takeaways! India is an emerging economy with Utility market place that has been conventional and is now entering a phase wherein things would start to change ( as slow as it might get). With advent of Distributed Energy Resources,  higher penetration of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency technologies, the conventional utility business model is up for some challenges ( Decline in revenues, number of customers etc)

In this blog i look at (according to me) key takeaways (perspectives, not essentially items covered at #EUW17) especially in the context of Indian Power Utility space.

  • Services is the way forward, experiment with Startups and engage with customers

Utilities have to diversify and look at selling more than “electricity”. While this message is not something new, the action items below would perhaps be something to think about.

We do need regulatory provisions for utilities to do more, but with engagements with startups they can start to experiment with startups and engage with customers, learn about what’s going to work and what’s not going to work. This might just help them stay ahead of the peer group and be able to position their strategy correctly.

  • Industrial customers need more love (attention)

Any disruption in the demand side is first going to happen (perhaps only) in the “Retail/Residential” consumer segment. Makes it imperative for Indian utilities who have industrial customers to really put on the thinking cap and start to do more with these customers.

Industrial consumers (when happy and serviced properly) and make for perfect hedging strategy. Most of the utilities that have industrial consumers (in India) are “state owned utilities”, does that really say something?

  • Embrace Technology

I was literally amazed by the kind of work that is happening in leveraging technology in the normal work procedures of “Utilities” from using drones to Augmented Reality to Block chain based solutions (DER).

In India we have often brushed aside conversations on these technologies saying that a) It will take ages to come to India b) These are not relevant for Indian markets etc. We just need to embrace these and new technologies find a way to bring them into use, look at solving conventional problems with an unconventional take.

Your take?

Best Regards,

Umesh Bhutoria