Energy suppliers unsure of digital skills needed for net zero – survey

Energy suppliers unsure of digital skills needed for net zero – survey
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According to a survey conducted and published by BDEW, energy suppliers from across 13 countries express the importance of digitisation for their operations, although they are unsure of the specific digital skills that will be needed going forward.

This is according to the Digital@EVU 2023 study, published by the German Association of Energy and Water Industries BDEW alongside consulting firm Kearney, Kearney’s competence centre for innovation IMP3ROVE and the Association of Swiss Electricity Companies VSE.

The study surveyed energy suppliers from 13 countries, 54% of which stated their digital strategy is a key factor in implementing their sustainability agenda.

More than 60% of supply companies, finds the survey, have already set up a digital strategy, although 80% have not yet defined a digital target along all steps of the value chain. 22% have defined a ‘digital north star’ along all stages of the value chain.

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Other key findings from the surveyed suppliers include:

  • Around half (47%) currently lack a clear idea of the digital skills that will be required in the future. However, 51% stated intentions of giving their IT a higher share of the company’s overall budget by 2025.
  • The three digital businesses expected to produce the strongest sales growth include solar and battery deals, e-mobility services and renewable energy heating solutions, respectively. More than 50% of companies expect compound annual sales growth of more than 10% by the end of 2025 in at least one of these business areas.
  • 51% of companies surveyed use robot-assisted process automation for at least one level of the value chain with a success rate of more than 80%.
  • 37% of companies were found to have placed financial targets for digitisation activities as part of their digitisation strategy.
  • 60% of companies named the lack of a uniform database and the skills of the employees as barring the use of data analysis and AI.
  • More than half of the companies named outdated systems and employee reluctance as key challenges preventing process digitisation. 59% named employee reluctance and 54% named outdated systems. Over 30% stated issues for quickly testing or experimenting with new digital processes. 36% perceived an inability to experiment quickly and 36% cited risk aversion.

Horst Dringenberg, global head of energy and partner at Kearney, commented on the survey: “The design of the IT systems of the future, the smart meter rollout and the management of the flexibility requirements through the integration of renewable energies represent enormous challenges for the German energy industry.

“In view of these complex tasks it is of crucial importance that we use the opportunities of digitisation much more effectively in a legal and regulatory framework that is designed in a future meaningful way, in order to translate the ambitious decarbonisation goals into reality.”