Europe’s energy future – destructive innovation and change

Hosted by FTI Consulting Brussels’ Head of Energy Kerstin Duhme, FTI Consulting’s Ladies Who Lunch Network welcomed Susanne Nies, Head of the Distribution System Operators Unit at Eurelectric on Monday 26 January. With a wealth of experience in energy and power generation, Susanne shared a frank and refreshingly provocative view on Internal Energy Market, the Energy Union and Photo 1Energy Transition.

Were Nikola Tesla, futurist, inventor and the developer of the alternating current system of generators, to return to the streets of Europe today he would not suffer future-shock, Susanne said. Why? Because in terms of the power system nothing much has changed in over 100 years. But looking to 20 years later, he’d be lost. And he’d be pleasantly dazed with how it has changed.

We too must let go of our past and preconceptions of the future to allow diversity and new challenges to shape our approach. Susanne said. What does that mean? For the Energy Transition it began with the challenge of introducing renewables into our energy system. But the Energy Transition needs to be much more than windmills and photovoltaics. We need to embrace innovative technologies such as smart grids and smart mePhoto 3tering which the IT revolution has enabled, and IT needs to play a much stronger role. Not only energy, but all networks need to converge: IT, mobility, power, gas and water – not to ignore the new challenges around data protection and cyber security this may create.

In Susanne’s view, new innovative business models are required to move us forward, but transparency about the impact of change will also be critical. It will come at a certain cost, both in terms of money and jobs, which needs to be acknowledged up front. Nevertheless Susanne believes there is no alternative, and the long-term benefits will be worth it.

For Susanne, Europe’s approach to the Internal Energy Market also needs to change. An increasing obsession with decentralisation has reinforced anti-European sentiment. Energy decisions in Europe are far more political than in other areas of the world, where they are based on market forces. To achieve the change that we need requires – in Susanne’s view – a mixture of state cPhoto 5ooperation and market forces. And while energy integration is needed and we don’t know what the eventual Energy Union is going to look like, Susanne believes another administrative governing body is not required.

Europe’s energy future needs change and innovation, including far more diversity in terms of business models, people’s qualifications, backgrounds, cultures and gender. As Susanne said, “we must do more to move from a traditionally male-dominated engineering focus and think differently. We must get into the impatient Zuckerberg/Google kind of mind-set and consider different solutions: what have we not done before?”

As reported by Sophia Lyscom, Consultant with FTI Consulting Brussels

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