ECO11 Panel: Smart Green Utility of the Future

If we make energy more expensive, consumers and companies will make a big effort to save energy. At Ecosummit 2011, I moderated an expert panel about the Smart Green Utility of the Future. Panelists include (from left): Joerg Fabri (allocate), moderator Jan Michael Hess (Ecosummit), Andre Shortell (GP Bullhound), Robert Werner (Greenpeace Energy) and Rolf Adam (Cisco). A smart green utility offers 100% renewable energy and helps clients save energy with smart green services and transparent tariffs.

After Fukushima, the 4 “official” German eco energy providers Greenpeace Energy, Naturstrom, EWS Schoenau and Lichtblick have acquired thousands of new customers. Greenpeace Energy alone got 5.000 new customers in 2 weeks without advertising. However, this is not enough. The German power oligopoly – RWE, Vattenfall, E.ON and EnBW – still rules the market. So the question is: how can the big players be transformed into smart green utilities – from the inside and the outside?

The bad news is that the big 4 have invested hundreds of billions of euros in the conventional energy system including coal and nuclear and this money will not be written off prematurely. At the same time, there are hundreds of new innovative Cleantech startups backed by experienced VCs with new technologies for renewable energy, energy storage, energy efficiency and the smart grid. Many of them have been present at Ecosummit 2011. Now these new technologies need to be brought to the mass market and the big utilities are the main channels due to their financial power and their huge customer base.

From the inside change can happen if there is a change in management. We discussed that utilities need a new generation of managers that carry renewable energy in their DNA and are able to embed sustainability into the corporate DNA and all investment decisions. From the outside, private and corporate customers can change their buying decisions and vote with their wallets. Of course, for a household changing the utility is rather easy. For a big company with energy-hungry factories it is more difficult.

Let’s work together on making going smart green now for the big companies an easy decision and process, too. We invite you – smart green startups, investors and corporates – to add your ideas into our Facebook comment system below or send us an email. Then we can send the big utilities an open manual for the fast transformation to the smart green utility. Change has started, let’s accelerate it!

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