Five steps to integrating privacy protection into IT transformations
We all know the story: energy resources are increasingly scarce and demand is rising. The need to scale back on both demand and supply is already starting to change how we use energy and do business with energy providers.
The smart revolution will help this change to happen, but it's not the final answer: utilities need to push further and put effective energy management programs in place.
Improved technology, new products and new thinking are all pointing the same way: greater efficiency could be good business for utilities. But do they have the will to change? Can they create a profitable business out of increasing energy efficiency instead of increasing energy sales? How are they going to compete when energy saving and microgeneration is mainstreamed and, in some countries, you can already buy energy audits and solar panels from the supermarket?
Our main feature (page 8) explores how utilities in regulated, liberalised and developing markets are approaching energy efficiency. While there is a lot of innovation on display, responses are highly diverse and our discussions do not paint a picture of an industry that sees this issue as core to its future.
However, some markets are seeing clear demonstrations of a shift in focus from supply-to-demand-side technologies. The UK's Centrica (page 46) and Germany's RWE (page 34) are both investing in energy efficiency ahead of any regulatory need, foreshadowing
the possible transformation of energy companies from commodity suppliers to energy service companies.
Some countries are being forced to take action. In the wake of electricity supply interruptions, South Africa's Eskom (page 36) has proved how much can be achieved through implementing straightforward demand management measures. And industrial customers in China have achieved fast, impressive results to reduce energy intensity following a government-led program (page 38).
Regulators will clearly play a major role in any big change - both to remove barriers to investment, and to incentivise utilities to invest as much in efficiency as they do in generation.
The key utility contribution is the will to change - to rebuild the traditional business model around a new rationale that allows utilities to earn reasonable revenues while reducing the amount of energy they sell. Utilities positioning themselves for this change now are
sure to be in a stronger position in the future.