Consumer energy customer event 2019: The energy market now in 4D

The annual retail customer event – Setting the course for net zero, was held on 19 November. Delegates heard from seven speakers discussing how finance, transport, heat, consumers and regulation could be utilised to help GB meet its 2050 net zero target.

The event began with Gareth Miller Cornwall Insight’s CEO emphasising that “we are experiencing one of the biggest periods of transformation the GB energy market has ever seen”.

Weaved throughout the afternoon was the “4Ds”: decarbonisation, decentralisation, democratisation and digitalisation. These were described as the four fundamental drivers of this transformational change the market is currently undergoing.

Decarbonisation finally has a focal point, with reaching net zero becoming an objective for the whole of GB, albeit that the speed and the path to take is still being debated. The move has been a catalyst for change, with Gareth highlighting that the decarbonisation objective was radically starting to reshape the market and featured heavily in every one of the speakers’ presentations.

Decentralisation has moved away from previous discussions of how a distributed asset will connect to a network. It appears that the market is moving towards “much smaller units of consumption, storage and generation even at the household level”. According to the presenters, the market is starting to shift to behind the meter, and as a result, it is expected that more integrated service offerings will begin to emerge

Thirdly, democratisation. Gareth explained that currently “we are at a tipping point from what consumers want and expect from energy”. With global protests on climate change, consumers are more aware of the issues. This has moved the political debate on from price and whether it is fair to a much broader discussion about the role of energy to improve the environmental circumstances across the world

The final D, digitalisation, is relatively new and the sector was described as only just starting to get to grips with this pillar of change. New tech-driven businesses are entering the market and are expected to have a profound effect on “the engagement, interaction and management of the consumer energy supplier relationship”. As the retail market evolves, there will likely be a greater focus on the customer experience, and digitalisation is set to play a vital role in this.

It is the digitalisation area that was a key feature of the event and culminated in the launch of Cornwall Insight’s Connected Home Insight Service. A connected home is a home with multiple integrated devices that can be easily controlled to create a safe, comfortable and convenient environment.

The Insight Service focuses on the changing landscape of comfort and convenience, security and wellness technologies and highlights emerging strategies of those operating in the connected homes space and their routes to market. It identifies the opportunities and challenges in the key areas as well as the commercial market.

Related thinking

Net zero corporates and ESG

The stakes are higher than they seem: the current energy challenge and net zero

It has been an incredibly challenging week in the UK energy sector, and attention has rightly focussed on consumer protection, and indirectly on the state of the energy supply markets. However, it would be a mistake to believe that the ramifications of supplier failure will be limited only to this...

Commercial and market outlook

Be the change you want to see – my takeaway from this year’s BIEE conference

On 13 September, I spoke at the British Institute of Energy Economics (BIEE) Energy for a net zero society conference. The conference considered the legacy of the Covid pandemic and how the means of recovery will influence the pace and direction of the net zero transition. The timing of the...

Commercial and market outlook

How can research help: what is the gap in understanding that should be addressed most urgently?

In the last two decades, the debate around addressing climate change has rightly focused on identifying – and supporting – the most suitable technologies to decarbonise our economies. Consequently, significant progress has been achieved in the decarbonisation of the power sector. However, as the priority is now to decarbonise hard-to-abate...

Commercial and market outlook

The digital transition and its lessons for the energy sector

Digitalisation of data is happening across all sectors globally. It has become pivotal to developing, modernising and transforming sectors from banking to healthcare. With COP26 on the horizon, a net zero target by 2050 enshrined in UK law and the sixth carbon budget aiming to reduce emissions by 78% by...

Home supply and services

Consolidation in the energy market predicted to continue

It has been a turbulent time for the retail energy market, experiencing a period of consolidation with mergers and supplier exits. This supplier consolidation is expected to continue in the near term. If suppliers fail to shift their business models for the new world it is likely to continue, according...

Low carbon generation

BEIS Hydrogen Strategy

The flagship Hydrogen Strategy paper was unveiled by BEIS on 18 August and confirmed that hydrogen will form a crucial part of the UK’s net zero economy. Perhaps disappointingly, the paper only reaffirms the 5GW of production capacity by 2030 commitment as set out in the Ten Point Plan with...


Energy market and net zero transition learning and development: Role-relevant career development training

We’re well over halfway through the calendar year and are now beginning to see more of the government’s thinking and policy-shaping around what needs to change to meet the 2050 net zero target. For example, the flurry of documents issued towards the end of 2020, including the Energy White Paper...

Net zero corporates and ESG

Data critical for sustainable investments

On 24 June, attendees to our 'Financing net zero forum' tuned in to hear the expert panel discussions on the role of data in sustainable investment. Joining the meeting chairs, Cornwall Insight's Daniel Atzori and Emma Bill were our guest panellists from Mercatus and Victory Hill Capital Group LLP. For investors to make...