Europe’s energy sector has changed radically in the past decade.
While it is still very much in a period of transition and evolution, the way forward is clear.
Decarbonization, decentralization and digitalization are the pillars on which the early 21st century energy sector is being built. These three ‘Ds’ are driving change and even acting as enablers for each other. All three have had – and will continue to have – an impact on the business of every company that is involved in the European power sector.
Digitalization will have a huge impact on the way the industry operates, but such change can’t be done half-heartedly. Digital transformation is about more than just implementing technology – it is also about people and processes that enable you to reshape your business models. Big data, automation, robotics, 3D printing – all are already radically altering the energy landscape.
And if the future is digitalized, decarbonized and decentralized, then it is also most certainly flexible. With some countries quite literally putting a price on flexibility by introducing capacity market payments, the business case for flexible gas power is stronger than ever. With renewables now firmly established on the grid, gas has cemented its role as the bridge from conventional power to new technologies.
All this change at first brought uncertainty, but now the European energy sector is a place of opportunity. By evolving, adapting and changing to new market needs, established players have given themselves a new relevance, often aided by new technology start-ups.
In the future our electricity may come from the Googles, Apples and Facebooks of the world, or more than likely, from companies that we have not yet heard of. What is certain is that the path to that future will be an exciting journey for us all.
Editor, Power Engineering International