The European Utility week (EUW) was held in Paris, France, last week at the Porte de Versailles Paris Expo. From 12-14 of November, the event brought together the main drivers of energy transition: Students, Startups, Corporates and Government agencies. Over a span of 3 days, the participants had the opportunity to visit 800 exhibitors from over 100 countries. As said by the CEO of Enedis, Phillippe Monloubou, “The European Utility Weeks is a unique opportunity to meet & share experience with all energy stakeholders in order to shape together a sustainable energy future”.
Happening right at the exhibition center, the hub sessions tackled topics such as digitalization, energy revolution, lifecycle management and other key challenges being faced by utilities all over the world. The hub sessions began with a brief keynote on the topic, by a topic expert, followed by Q&As from the participants. Some of the question raised were specific to companies and corporations facing one particular problem. The best part was the involvement of other stakeholders and the speakers themselves, to help curb the challenge being faced by this corporation. The hub sessions offered a more technical view on the topics being discussed, specifically catering to engineers and project managers.
Initiate! advertised as the Datatopia of the EUW, was a platform bringing together startups, young professionals and students to discuss innovative ideas that can aid the energy transition. De-centralization of the electricity sector, upcoming prosumer culture and data management for adequate demand response were the key topics that were discussed. Initiate was interesting in terms of the ground zero platform where the discussions were happening. Nobody can predict the future, hence delegates, students and professionals alike were offering their own perspectives for this data driven future.
The summit programme involved top level management of corporates and government organizations for key-note delivery and panel discussions. The topics focused on how policies can aid with the implementation of the right energy technologies. The programme offered an understanding into the working of policies and offered a view from the shoes of the decision makers. Often times the policy makers join the energy transition bandwagon towards the end. By opening the discussion with the decision makers, the professionals and students could understand how geo-political and economic issues can affect policies being implemented. It is not always about technology and innovation, it is about incorporating technology and innovation into our way of life, to grow together and to grow sustainably.
The GCI Challenge, specifically designed for InnoEnergy masters’ students assigned students teams to challenges being faced by specific companies. This year, E.On, Vattenfall, McKinsey energy insights and EDP participated as challenge sponsors. The student teams were created with the help of GC Index, bringing together students of different GCI profiles to cater to different aspects of the challenge. The challenges ranged from developing microgrids for rural areas to developing business models incorporating grid flexibility solutions. The students had 2 days to brainstorm solutions, before making the final pitch on Day 3. The ideate -> prototype -> validate loop was implemented several times, with feedback and validation provided by the mentors and GCI coaches.
The pitches made on day 3 included role play, presentations and formal investor pitches. It was great to see the company’s involvement and enthusiasm about the presented solutions. All in all, it was a great opportunity for the students to network with potential employers, and bring their game changing impact forward.
The European Utility Week was a true indicator of what is required to transition towards a sustainable future: Collaboration & Action. When C-level executives collaborate with students, young professionals, corporations and startups to develop ideas & strategies, great transformation can happen in society and the energy industry.