Last week, San Francisco became the center of attention as politicians, industry representatives and activists joined from across the globe to discuss actions against climate change for the Global Climate Action Summit. It is now clear that every building blocks of our society have to contribute, and sustainable development won’t be achieved without the commitment of the energy industry. This industry has actually been through a very deep transformation with most companies operating a transition to fit into a decarbonized economy.

On Tuesday September 11th, the Global Open Innovation Network hosted a TechMeeting dedicated to the New Energy Landscape in order to provide an understanding of the changes operated by the energy industry. The event gathered over seventy people from a large range of companies and sectors.

Our panel was composed of four experts :

  • Amul Sathe, who moderated the panel, is Director at Navigant Consulting.
    He oversees the development of forecasting models, analytical tools, and market studies to provide valuable insight to energy utilities, water utilities and governmental agencies.
  • Lisa Rivalin works as a Data Science Project Manager at ENGIE Axima, a leading French Company in Climate Engineering. She also created a research partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), where she is currently based as an affiliate research scholar working on algorithms for “Smart Buildings.”
  • Edouard Bulteau is Investment Manager at Total Energy Ventures, the corporate venture arm of Total, investing in innovative startups in the energy domain, in sectors such as renewables, energy efficiency, energy storage, smart grids, mobility, IoT and CO2 remediation.
  • Christophe Defert, is Vice-President of Centrica Innovations Ventures. CI Ventures is focused on start-up businesses that have proprietary technologies or innovative business models.

The panel discussion started with a focus on the blurred lines between industries that seem to define the New Energy Landscape. All panelists identified that trend as the most significant one.

For Christophe Defert, the blending of verticals can be seen in the uprising competition between oil and gas companies and automotive companies. While traditionally targeting different consumers, these companies are now in direct competition. Defert mentioned the case of BMW. The German automobile manufacturer provided BMW i3 batteries to the Pen y Cymoedd onshore wind farm in Wales, in order to store power and provide a more reliable source of renewable energy.

Edouard Bulteau used another very speaking example by mentioning Leclerc, France’s leading grocery and general merchandise retailer, that announced last July its plan to sell electricity to French households targeting a market share of 10 percent by 2025.

Lisa Rivalin used the example of ENGIE to illustrate the blending of verticals in the energy industry. In the past few years, the French multinational electric utility company has operated a change of strategy and is now committed to digitalization, decarbonization, decentralization and energy efficiency.

Bulteau then revealed how a once traditional energy company like Total has embraced the changes occurring in its industry. Over the past 3 years, the company operated intensive acquisitions in the wind, sun, battery and power retail industry with the objective to generate 20% of its revenues from renewables in 20 years’ time.

Later, Defert and Bulteau discussed the difficulty of “finding champions” to invest in and summed up their needs to finding customers, funds and ecosystems to support them.

Sathe then questioned Rivalin about the challenges of bringing data analytics to the energy industry. According to her, the analytical part, the math, the algorithms, are very performant, the two main challenges are the poor quality of data and the cost of implementation.

Finally, each panelist talked about the breakthrough they are hoping the energy industry achieves in the next 10 years. After Lisa Rivalin and Edouard Bulteau respectively mentioned air quality and safe, performant storage technology, Christophe Defert explained that according to him there is no need of a breakthrough: the industry already has the good set of tools to move towards a clean, sustainable model, what the industry needs is a political push, a bit more innovation in terms of business models and provide the right solution to each market and each customer.

The Global Open Innovation Network invited 8 startups to present their solution around innovations in energy. The presenting startups were: Blue Planet Energy, EverCharge, BoxPower, Cool Energy, Nimbus Materials, Sunna Design, EP Tender and VertPom.

Check our website for more information on the Global Open Innovation Network and don’t forget to register on EventBrite for our first TechMeeting in New-York on October 2nd: Urban Tech.

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us: prime@innovation-prime.com