Solar energy is hot. In the US solar has grown with 60% every year in the last decade. Sales of electric cars in Europe go up with 50% each year and there are already more than 1 million electric cars on the road. Certainly tax benefits are steering us when spending our money and such tax rules are of course related to the recent United Nations agreement on climate change.
However, there are a number of consumer and business trends that represent more intrinsic drivers for the energy transition. These trends are very interesting for companies to make use of while developing revenue models on the basis of renewable energy.
Prosumer as a life style
Consumers are getting used to the idea of monetizing their assets. Popular examples are the short-term renting of property (e.g Airbnb), cars (Snappcar, Uber) or tools (NeighborGoods). Renewable energy can be very effectively produced in a decentral way, by putting solar panels on the roof tops of homes, schools and other local venues. This green energy is added to the grid and can be sold to other community members. Transaction platforms bring local supply and demand together. EV’s, more than petrol cars, are very suitable for sharing. They can topped-off at home and there is much less wear and maintenance to be worried about.
Experience instead of ownership
Marketing departments know this already for a couple of years. Consumers want experiences and bother less about ownership. On demand private car providers are the largest start-ups in the transport tech sector. On demand music services, such as Spotify or Apple Music, together with large music performance shows dominate the entertainment sector. Experience-orientation can drive the energy transition as it paves the road for various add-value services around renewable electricity and mobility solutions.
Consumers are online. Always and everywhere. The penetration of smart phones is strong in both developing and developed markets. Connectivity enables the fossil-to-electricity transition. It is the key success element for lots of on-demand mobility services and its related services such as smart charging or smart parking. Connectivity also drives new revenue streams around green energy trade, for example by enabling payments in kWh, remote management of local wind and solar plants etc.
Internet of things (IOT)
Rapidly lots of non-IT devices are getting connected to the internet. Car manufacturers equip their recent models with sim cards, household appliances such as ovens or washing machines can be managed remotely and espresso machine automatically order new capsules online when they’re about to run out. The IOT development is pivotal for the industry to make the electric transition happen. Smart, connected electric meters are already rolled out to households in Europe. Such meters talk online with energy providers about when renewable energy is abundant and will delay the start of a washing machine. Smart meters even interrupt the cooling process of the refrigerator at home just for 5 minutes to help reducing an imbalance on the grid (and thus saving money at the household electricity bill). In mobility the same leap forward is on its way: the connected electric car shares the diary of its owner with the charging post to optimize the use of available green energy so that the car battery is charged with exactly enough energy for the next scheduled journey.