Four ways to get in on the energy transition, even when you’re not in the energy sector

Go beyond saving energy, and start exploring new business opportunities in energy products and services.

If you run a business (or control the company purse strings), you probably see energy as just another bill the company has to pay each month. Making money off of energy is only for power plants and grid operators, right?

Think again.

The transition that is required to move the world towards a truly clean, fossil-fuel free energy system has space — in fact, requires — more players to contribute to how we both consume and purchase energy.

Photo by Axel Antas-Bergkvist on Unsplash

A large-scale energy transition will mean deep and profound change not only in the energy sector, but also in societal infrastructure, energy access models, consumer energy behavior and other facets of economic life. It’s time for all businesses, even those not in the energy sector, to move beyond the confines of their own energy needs to see how their existing business infrastructure and core products can play a part in speeding up this change, for the good of their company and the planet.

Here are a few ways businesses across industries can use existing consumer touchpoints to kick it up a notch when it comes to involvement in the energy transition:

  1. Expand clean energy infrastructure. Finnish K-Group is installing electric vehicle charging stations across stores nationwide to help build the vast infrastructure needed to transition to a more electrified fleet, in the process increasing Finland’s public charging capacity by 50%.
  2. Reduce barriers to decentralized energy consumption and production. IKEA expanded its definition of home and lifestyle products by selling solar panels to customers in the UK and Netherlands, just one of several products it has launched to help people live more sustainably. By tying in energy to other home upgrades, the effort required of consumers to start thinking about and making energy upgrades is reduced.
  3. Increase information access and education on energy alternatives. Google has helped drive solar energy adoption using existing core products such as Google Earth by providing customized information to consumers on solar potential and cost savings estimates for their homes. Providing third party information sources that are separated from energy retailers help not only with access to information, but may also help increase the perceived reliability of the information.
  4. Create tools for optimized energy management. Samsung is using its Smart Home product pairings to encourage more active energy tracking and consumer demand-side management by combining phones, tablets, and even TVs to energy metering in a single, clear product offering. Again, by tying energy efficiency into existing consumer products and interests rather than relying entirely on utilities to provide these services, consumers can more quickly become active, rather than passive, energy users.

A worldwide energy transition is required in order to meet the goals set out in the Paris Climate Agreement, and in the process, ensure a safe world for all citizens and businesses in the future. While examining our own consumption habits both as individuals and businesses is certainly a part of the equation, the task of building products and services, assessing opportunities, and establishing infrastructure for a fossil-fuel free society cannot be left entirely on the shoulders of the energy sector.

Though the approaches can and will vary greatly, the most exciting, innovative and the quickest change will come when entities across industries and across the public/private sector divide cooperate to create new channels of growth and new business models for energy innovation.

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