10 ways in which IT can help energy companies meet sustainability goals

01 July 2021 Consultancy.uk 6 min. read
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CIO’s and IT leaders at energy companies have a significant role to play in helping their organisations green their operations and meet net zero targets. Experts from Coeus Consulting share ten ways how IT can help leaders overcome their current and future sustainability challenges and meet their goals. 

Challenge: Adhering to regulations

Regulations in each country will have significant societal impact on the electricity network, with DNO’s, for example facing several interlinked challenges including: transformation of the energy network landscape as we move towards net zero carbon; increasing use of electrical vehicles as move to eliminate fossil fuels from the mobility sector; continuing, and increasing connection of low carbon generation, especially offshore wind; and the change of state to become a DSO and the new responsibilities and accountabilities associated with this, to facilitate the previous examples.

How IT can help
IT can help companies respond to regulatory requirements demonstrating how they are innovating for low carbon future and providing both options and value-for-money for consumer. 

10 ways how IT can help energy companies meet sustainability goals

Challenge: Reducing carbon emissions

Data centres are critical to organisations’ technological needs and advancement; however, they require a lot of power to operate – roughly 2% of the world’s electricity, contributing approximately 0.3% to global carbon emissions. Studies show that moving out of, and closing down, standalone data centres in favour of cloud solutions can result in carbon reduction of between 30% and 90%. 

However, the various cloud providers have different commitments to the use of renewable energy and carbon emission reduction, so businesses need to make sure they choose wisely to best align with their targets and strategy.

How IT can help
IT can support sustainability targets and identify opportunities to reduce environmental impact across the organisation by providing IT solutions, enhanced operating models and ways of working. 

Challenge: Meeting renewable energy targets

Energy companies are feeling the pressure to grow and improve renewable energy generation, and to hit (increasing) annual targets.

At the same time, they are having to adapt strategies, such as: procuring or investing in renewable energy, such as wind and solar power; developments in bio-fuels; and introducing new renewable products and offerings to retain market share and profitability.

How IT can help
IT can ensure that IT strategy, processes and polices are fully aligned and directly contributing to company sustainability targets and investment & product initiatives.

Challenge: Balancing renewable energy generation with demand

Being able to predict energy yield has always been demanding, but even more so as energy generation sources change and become more variable due to weather conditions. Dependency on IT systems to manage, monitor and report from multiple sources, and not just power stations, requires a strong infrastructure of applications to balance the challenges of increased renewables, sources on the grid, sustainability and meeting demand.

How IT can help
IT can build the IT infrastructure and network of applications for the future using appropriate technologies and suppliers to support. 

Challenge: Managing energy volatility

New ways of generating energy such as solar and wind are naturally more volatile: at the same time demand continues to increase. This will require a greater ability to manage demand while storage becomes even more critical in ensuring that energy can be supplied – even when generation may be reduced. 

How IT can help
IT can help the company manage the increased use / dependence on digital solutions by developing & designing more flexible systems and IT operating models. 

Challenge: Making trading more flexible

Trading needs to become more flexible in order to manage increasing demands from new suppliers for greener energy. The rollout of blockchain technology and smart devices may be required for the microgrids that will support small-scale generation and also the ability for people to trade energy amongst their community and with their neighbours. 

How IT can help
IT can help support current infrastructure while increasing innovation and improving flexibility by reviewing and improving IT structure, operating model and supplier outsourced agreements. 

Challenge: Optimising customer journeys

Customer journeys and channels are changing, while customers are becoming more knowledgeable about how much energy they use, how they can contribute and how to support global sustainability goals. The generation of smart meter users, localised generation and growth of consumption points requires a greater dependence on a flexible, yet robust, network that can grow with these changing needs

How IT can help
IT can increase innovation and improve flexibility by reviewing and improving supplier contracts and sourcing models. 

Challenge: Improving customer experience

There is a greater need for companies to have the capabilities in house to quickly and accurately analyse & provide customer data; this would enable businesses to better serve and enrich their customer’s end to end experience. The ultimate goal being to reduce carbon emissions as well as providing the best customer experience and giving the power to reduce carbon to companies and consumers alike. 

How IT can help
IT can improve customer experience (including mobile experience) by building a robust CRM and customer journey management strategy, and by enhancing data and analytics capabilities. 

Challenge: Ensuring the reliability of electricity consumption points

With the growth of electrical vehicle adoption, ensuring the reliability of IT networks is more important than ever. Energy firms need to ensure customers have reliable access to electricity consumption points and be able to keep up with increasing usage and demand. Energy companies must make sure that customer demand and trend data can be collected, aggregated and used to deliver true benefit. 

How IT can help
IT can ensure that the supporting infrastructure for electrical driving is stable and optimised, and that energy consumption data can be analysed to support operations and decision-making.

Challenge: Effective digital and technology solutions

With a rapidly changing market, energy companies need to make sure their in-house digital solutions are ahead of the game and flexible enough to support evolving business needs that match changing customer profiles. There will also be a need to find cost savings and manage costs associated with such changes. 

How IT can help
IT can work with the business on new ways of working and new creative digital solutions.