Traditionally, utilities were the ones serving consumers with electricity, water, and/or gas as a commodity product with a strictly functional billing relationship. During recent years, an increasing number of new energy stakeholders like prosumers demand transparency in their energy costs as well as advice on savings from unnecessary energy usage, insulation services, EV charging, or the benefits from investing in renewable energy like rooftop solar.
At the same time, the energy transition is further accelerated by the participation of new players like financial organizations and insurance companies. These players enter the energy sector by taking advantage of the digital age to create new added-value services to broaden their product portfolio. Yet, both old and new energy stakeholders can stand to benefit from seamless access to data, also known as data democratization.
What does data democratization mean?
Data democratization is the future of connecting, unifying, and sharing enterprise data to realize new business value. However, traditionally complex data integrations and system silos have made it challenging and resource-intensive to access and fully utilize the data within the organization. According to IDC, 90% of the unstructured data is never analyzed. Such data is known as dark data. For this reason, more and more utilities are turning to a modern integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) for rapid integrations for having structured and controlled access to all data they need to succeed in tomorrow’s energy landscape.
Furthermore, data democratization only provides added value if all data are analyzed, assembled, and presented according to modern end users’ needs and requirements. Today’s end-users want to gain more insights into their home energy consumption to save more money and reduce energy waste whereas when it comes to prosumers, they would like to be offered more tools to check the performance and optimize, for example, their solar and EV asset investments. All these capabilities are now enabled by data that are adding value to the daily life of end-users and empowers them, while at the same time organizations can re-use the same data insights for operational optimization and new product offerings.
Realizing and adapting to this new reality is essential, particularly for the traditional players in the energy ecosystem, such as utilities (energy retailers/providers, grid operators, DSOs, etc). To enable the energy transition and to empower energy prosumers, those players can make use of the concept of data democratization and provide rich and controlled data access to new players and also directly to prosumers. For example, utilities that have access to smart meter data can offer insights to prosumers on how to optimize the production of photovoltaic electricity with the various products and events in their homes that generate the consumption load in their households. Think about automated and optimized EV charging and doing this with as much as possible solar PV energy from your own roof or using the cheapest tariff.
Benefits to more outside participants
The energy transition can only be accelerated if more parties join the ride. From the Green Deal to Paris Agreements and United Nations Sustainable Goals, we see that net-zero and decarbonization goals appeal to a varied number of organizations. And it's data democratization that can further accelerate this participation.
What’s interesting to see is financial organizations like banks aligning their goals to this direction as well, by offering green mortgages or energy insights to their clients, maintenance companies to provide AI monitoring mechanisms that can detect product wear, defects, leakages, or, home contractors to build green residences with zero-waste energy infrastructures based on heat pumps, PVs & EVs chargers. Rabobank in the Netherlands is using energy insights to empower its customers towards a more sustainable lifestyle by providing them with the right tools to be aware and have control of their energy consumption.
Collaboration for the energy transition
Overall, the energy transition is a complicated puzzle where multiple pieces need to fit and work collaboratively. Seamless access to data, sharing, and effective analysis of this data will be the key to a successful shift to renewable energy. It's important to highlight that the energy actors of today should look at digital and climate actions together in order to bring whatever they can do best into the energy transition and make it work.