European Utility Week 2019: the end of buzzwords?

While every visitor to EUW prepares to be bombarded with buzzwords, these buzzwords we’ve been overflowed with, EUW booked a surprise this year: the sobriety of the messages on the booths and in the conferences offered in the Hub Sessions.

Should we be alarmed? Would this trend be a sign of a slowdown of innovation in the field of energy?

The absence of catchy slogans encouraged me to go into more detail in the discovery and my understanding of the exhibitors’ offerings: a kind of treasure hunt to which I participated. What I am giving you is therefore not exhaustive and is only a reflection of my personal journey.

First of all, there remains an important part of exhibitors focused on the presentation of products, including meters. The champions in the field are the Chinese, always more numerous: I note it every year. In recent years, they have continued to enrich their offerings: from meter producers, they have become metering system providers, members of associations supporting communication technologies, for example. But nothing is more like a meter than another meter, opening the door to a price war and to the Chinese.

In the realm of products still sit Siemens, Schneider Electric and GE: this year, Schneider Electric presented a real novelty: a medium voltage circuit breaker, that is compact, and that trip in the air: it looks like nothing but it’s a feat. First of all, tripping in the air eliminates the use of SF6, gas with a global warming potential 22000 times higher than that of CO2! Then, the trip in the air usually induces a very large volume which, in this case, remains unchanged and allows the swap without work of an old device by a new one.

For many applications, the market seems to be structured and organized, showing a certain maturity, even in the absence sometimes of a very extensive market … which can explain why one no longer needs to rely on buzzwords:

– Smart metering, of course, with communication, integration, data management software and full range of services like Arkossa’s

– The valuation of flexibilities achieved in the positioning of an operator (Tiko, Next) and more and more of a software vendor (Next, Energy Pool, Centrica)

– The Smart Home less represented than before with specialized offers (Tado), though other offerings expand (Nest) up to a larger extent (Smappee, Honeywell). I am still questioning the real attractiveness of some of these offers. I noticed the arrival of the AI ​​which allows a real added value in terms of functionalities and especially in terms of taking into account the different consumer profiles: the technology provider Quant Co and the solution provider Eliq seem to be among such leaders.

– The charging infrastructure and storage solutions had, for the most part, not made the move.

Many start-ups were present: some in an area reserved for them, easy to access, the others sheltered by the country pavilions that were more like sheep parks in which it was difficult to locate one. There were nevertheless nuggets: a pity not to have them more highlighted.

This exhibition of solutions available on the market, solid for the most part, did not reveal a reality that could be perceived in the presentations offered in the various Hub sessions: the cohabitation on the market of:

– Professional experimenters beside companies keen to develop new sustainable and profitable activities

– Innovative visions, anxious to be part of current political, societal and technological trends beside visions taped into the patterns of the past.

Difficult to inexperienced listeners to sort the messages and … the tracks to follow!

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