In recent years, energy has been at the center of debates around social responsibility, but it has also become a major line of reflection for innovation.
Energy and innovation
The subject of energy is often treated simplistically by an ecological vision advocating degrowth. Of course, the question of sustainable development, of a less energy-intensive world, is a legitimate virtue, but we need to take a step back to consider energy not as a simple utility but as a real vector of business transformation.
The question I wish to address today is not the place of energy in the transformation of our society, but rather the question of the platforming of energy suppliers (producer, distributor, service creators).
Let’s take the example of electricity
Historically, since the post-war period, energy production, seen as a regalian function, has been a state monopoly that has been more or less privatized over the last 20 years.
But the possibility of becoming an individual producer of electrical energy (via solar panels or wind turbines in one’s backyard) has broken this centralized production.
The monopoly of production is no longer relevant, but the control of distribution has also fallen, paving the way for platforms.
This first disruption is followed by another axis of transformation: the desire to move intelligently away from non-renewable energies.
But “clean” renewable energies, whether solar or wind, have a major weakness: they are unable to adapt to demand. Production that is not adapted to demand is doomed to failure. The only solution — storage.
When it comes to electricity, the solutions proposed today are based on batteries, cost, low capacity, and, above all, ecological impact.
You may ask, “What does this have to do with platforms?”
Wait, I’m getting there. And by car!
Indeed, the progress of the last five years has allowed us to envisage the democratization of electric vehicles, much more virtuous to reduce the pollution of our large cities.
The use of the electric vehicle as a means of storage is one thought. The arrival of electric vehicles is a key element in the management of the electrical network.
A car is unused 95% of its lifetime and the average use of an electric vehicle will require less than 80% of the battery capacity for daily trips.
Therefore, it will be possible during periods when the vehicle is connected to the electrical grid, to use the stored electricity to inject it into the network during periods of high demand or, conversely, to charge the vehicle’s battery during off-peak hours.
This is the “vehicle-to-grid” or V2G concept, which consists of using electric vehicle batteries as mobile storage capacity.
We are beginning to see a form of multi-connected network, a platform in the technical and business meaning.
Because these operations of purchase — for charging/sale or injection into the network — form a real marketplace that can become a business in its own right for those who will hold this asset. An energy Amazon will be built.
Furthermore, the platform will be able to allow each driver to buy electricity for his vehicle, wherever he is, without having to go through a new subscription as is the case today on our European roads.
Security is a fundamental issue in this architecture. Can you imagine the consequences of hacking this platform, where Ransomware could infiltrate electric vehicles allowing hackers to access recharging and ransom to allow users to reload their vehicles?
The historical players in the energy sector, who are seeing their monopolies crumble, should quickly take the turn towards platforming, and build this service.
They have all the assets they need to do this (i.e. trust, security, and the existing user base). We can help them to think about and build this transformation, we have the right tools. Open everything; liberate energy.
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