As a design strategy project our team set out to develop a sustainable future for Eneco, Holland’s largest energy supplier. As society develops towards a self-sustaining autarky, the role of energy companies is expected to shrink over the years to come. We set out to develop a strategy that leverages Eneco’s competences to enter a new market for a future in which the company remains relevant.
In a market where differentiation is difficult as the end product (energy) is the same for every consumer, Eneco tries to set itself apart by a heavy focus on sustainability. Although this isn’t very unique there is, when used in a smart manner, some value from a marketing perspective in using sustainability as a sales driver. “Hedonism can be a legitimate dimension of ethical consumption if we accept that doing the right thing may be associated with feelings of self-respect, which, in turn, provides us with feelings of pleasure” (Szmigin, Carrigan & O’loughlin, 2007). The problem with energy is that it is invisible and it is completely impossible to evaluate whether your power is indeed sustainable. Power is power. Therefore any form of conspicuous consumption is impossible in its current form. As a selling point it is therefore very ineffective.
To make sure Eneco stays relevant in the future we developed a roadmap in which Eneco transforms from a supplier to an innovator-company, allowing them to enter the market of wireless energy. Wireless energy is already being done by companies as Witricity and Energous and currently works well to power devices over short distances. The market is expected to grow to 8.5 billion dollars by 2018.
Eneco is uniquely positioned to enter this market. Their brand is strongly associated with energy, highly trusted and experienced in installing devices in domestic homes. Over the period of 15 years their brand will transform in to a lifestyle brand and the organization will evolve in to one that is excellent in facilitating innovation. Our roadmap is a great starting point for kickstarting this process.
Acknowledging the scope of the assignment we set out to uncover relevant trends, which were then clustered in five domains: Energy, charging, dominant technology, consumer behaviour and socio-demographic trends. Based on trends in the consumer behaviour and dominant technology domains we developed a vision for the future which can be used to ideate how Eneco can be relevant in this future.
The Dutch government will ban the direct collaboration between grid operators and energy suppliers. As a result Eneco and Stedin split off, putting even more pressure on Eneco’s business. Between 2020 and 2025 there has been a distinct turning point in the cost efficiency of solar power. This is now cheaper than traditional energy sources. Because of this a new group of entrepreneurs enters the energy market. These are not necessarily sustainability advocates, but people who see financial opportunities in bringing solar energy to the masses. This speeds up the development of solar energy even further and lowers the cost of energy to extreme lows. By 2030 consumers live in completely self-sustaining homes and have virtually unlimited energy access. However, new consumer needs have risen. The advent of technology and especially mobile technology, such as wearables, increases the need for mobile energy. In 2030 consumers will be able to charge their devices wireless non-stop and peer to peer. The age of unlimited access to energy has arrived.
After the development of the future vision, we started ideating what role Eneco could have in the future. By going with the wireless power direction we had to validate the direction to see if wireless energy would work. To do this we used the Validation Board, that allows you to test the biggest assumptions and pivot the idea after assumptions were found to be invalid. All of this has been presented and was selected as best project by Eneco. The company is currently taking the first steps to realize a pilot as soon as possible.
Below is the poster we created for the exposition.