New business opportunities from digital energy technologies

We’re entering an era of massive change in the energy sector. Renewables are demanding for new capabilities: data collection and exchange are growing exponentially, creating digital threats which are at the same time valuable opportunities.  

These opportunities are present for all the renewables actors, but let’s dive in in each category’s new revenue opportunities:

Asset management: Highest system performance at the lowest maintenance cost

In the digital era O&M companies are able to automate their asset management. Thanks to dozens of systems they can automate most of the tasks, such as financial and performance reporting, contracts management, and improve their results from many other tools, leading to a more efficient asset management.

Energy trading: Managing price volatility in the energy markets

This is a revenue opportunity for asset managers and sometimes O&M companies. Indeed, energy trading has never been so simple, thanks to lots of energy trading and risk management (ETRM) and load optimization software in the market. Nowadays’ applications can cover all aspects of a transaction lifecycle, eliminating any chance of human error while aggregating, blending, and analyzing inputs from all data sources, which allows you to manage and automate your energy trading.

Energy communities: Allowing multiple participants to benefit from one solar array.

In liberalized markets, PV developers and system integrators with strong technical and financial background can operate energy communities. Many tools allow to automate the billing process, optimize complex energy production, storage and consumption systems and trade energy or flexibility sources in electricity markets. So, thanks to the digital energy these companies can now compete with larger utilities.

Aggregators: Maintain grid stability and reliability.

Today it seems that every energy trader and power producer wants to become an aggregator of renewable energy, storage or demand response resources. They can do this, by exploiting the aggregation and real-time action of energy assets and industrial loads can provide accurate frequency regulation and demand response. Nowadays energy trading softwares operate in an asset-agnostic environment that leverages open APIs for asset integration. This enables various DER asset types and tailors optimization needs to the specific value proposition in any geography. 

 

Indeed, the software necessary to achieve all these great opportunities is out there, companies just need to understand what they really want to achieve and go for it.

This is the third of a series of articles, where we take a look at how energy companies can boost their performances through digital energy. In this series we will discuss:

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Vertical all in one solutions Vs. Building your own energy software

The revolution of energy management has created the need for more powerful and advanced tools: more and more of our day-to-day lives are becoming automated, and today energy companies are working on doing the same. So you need to find the right software for managing your energy. But first you need to decide if you should subscribe to an all in one solution that comes ready-made or reach for a software house to create your own. There are obviously pros and cons to both options, but what’s the better deal?

Buying an all in one solution.

The first option is subscribing to digital services: a SaaS solution, like O&M or asset management’s platforms to monitor the performance of the plants.

When it comes to pros, first of all it’s almost guaranteed to be the less expensive option. Second, when you buy an already existing software, you’re able to use it immediately, cutting down the time you need to wait to improve your business. Also, when you subscribe to an all in one solution, that software is used by others too, so there is the benefit of it being paid for, tested and improved constantly, and most companies offer full support to help you get comfortably set up and running smoothly. All the updates, security and maintenance are taken care of for you.

But the biggest benefit of buying a software that’s already been made, is that you pay for experience: the endless revisions, bug fixes, product launches and relaunches that go into developing a software. You’re paying for the years of work the creator put into their own business. And, you also gain from other companies like yours’ feedbacks. Which may mean you end up with great features you never would have thought of.

Obviously there are risks too: while buying a platform that isn’t custom-made it won’t perfectly match your needs. Plus, you might end paying for features you don’t need and missing some that are crucial for your business.

 

Building your own energy management software 

The second option you have is paying a software house to develop your own platform.

The immediate pros for a custom system are obvious: it is tailor-made to fit your needs. Every detail is built with your specific workflow in mind and every feature is one you’re guaranteed to use. You get exactly what you want. No one else has a say in what changes are made to the software. You never lose the features you use, and all the data you get out of your software are relevant to your business. 

But what many don’t realize is how expensive a custom platform can be, or how long it takes to build. Energy companies are complex systems, so they require complex software to run, which can take months to build. Even once they’re built, they cost a fortune to maintain. Updates, security and bug fixes are all additional costs that need to be maintained.

And last, but certainly not least, once you have built your own software you are locked for the long term. Every time you need to add new features or change some functionalities, you need to go through the whole process again. This slows down the innovation process by a lot. In this era of big changes in the energy industry, keeping the pace of innovation is the key to effectively compete against both incumbents and start-up companies.

So, what’s better?

Today the goal of energy companies is to grow in the most efficient way possible. 

If you have the time, resources and patience for building your own energy management platform, it might be worth it, but so many companies don’t. At the end of the day, you have to decide what your business goals are: do you want to spend your time and energy building software or growing your business?

Custom software will increase your efficiency and fit your businesses, but it’s not efficient to implement. It costs more time and money than most businesses are willing to spend.

Although subscribing to an all in one solution might not be the perfect fit, it still offers an efficient solution that will help you grow your business, without spending months just to get started. They’re built with experience, and they were made to help you succeed.

In conclusion, the key is definitely in finding a balance between these two options, don’t you think?

This is the second of a series of articles, where we take a look at how energy companies can boost their performances through digital energy. In this series we will discuss:

Subscribe to our Newsletter "Digital Energy Insights"