Moving beyond energy price rhetoric and towards ethical success
There has never been a better time to talk about energy.
In the 1960s, the UK started to transition away from coal-fired power and turned to the oil and natural gas buried below the North Sea.
We are now on the precipice of yet another major change to our energy industry, driven by multiple factors which see climate change at their core.
The global effort to mitigate the impact of climate change is transforming the energy sector forever, profoundly reforming the market. Alongside this, a fundamental shift in consumer behaviour is contributing to this change, with an increased demand for energy coming from sustainable, renewable energy sources.
At the same time, the UK electricity market is becoming increasingly competitive, with fifty-four registered suppliers this year (and counting). As these new entries – whose focus is supplying energy from renewable sources – drive prices down, the buyers’ market gets stronger, and the “big six” continue to lose market share. According to Ofgem, this has led to small and medium-sized suppliers growing to a combined market share of 30% in electricity and 31% in gas.
As the market rapidly evolves, new suppliers entering (and subsequently exiting) the market create instability, with many firms failing due to unsustainably low-price offerings. As such, it would make sense to ask where this will take us long term, and how the market can adapt and reform to fulfil customer demand and stabilise both price and supply.
In the words of Dan Bates, Founder and CEO at Rebel Energy, a new energy supplier seeking to enter the market, the answer is simple: digitalisation, decarbonisation and decentralisation. These, in his view, are now the key energy drivers, which need to meet the public’s demand for sustainable energy, and address the fuel poverty gap experienced by the UK’s most vulnerable people.
Working in close partnership with Climate17, a leading clean energy recruiter, Dan is driven to make Rebel Energy the UK’s leading socially responsible energy supplier. “Providing energy with a big heart,” Dan is set to positively disrupt the energy market, proving that an energy supplier can successfully balance a focus on pursuing a responsible and sustainable agenda while being profitable and financially stable.
Dan proposes the debate is centred not only on how competitive prices can be, but also how much businesses are going to be able to engage with the public in its entirety. This fuels questions about how energy suppliers have so far complied with their legal requirement of supplying disadvantaged individuals and communities, and also points towards an understanding of how the market is radically changing from “centralised energy infrastructure” to fragmented, decentralised supply. He explains that “such huge change in technology means that that model, that paradigm where we viewed the world is completely changing (towards) much more local and small grids – and really, the winners are going to be the ones who have access to customers and also those who have access to and can work with communities, providing energy to the most vulnerable people”.
This energy needs to be sustainable, clean and ethical, and somewhat closes the loop. Mark Carney, Bank of England Governor, said last year that “companies and industries that are not moving towards zero-carbon emissions will be punished by investors and go bankrupt […]” (The Guardian 2019).
In a world where energy customers become your investors, believers and supporters, where clean energy and social commitment become basic requirements of energy supply, Dan’s view falls into place, shedding new light on the energy competition debate. This, in turn, sees the energy supplier radically changing in structure, goals and delivery systems.
With the support of Climate17, Rebel Energy will aim to lead the industry towards that change. Building their foundations on legally binding social and environmental commitments through B-Corp, they are building a team of experts who share this vision and are going to be part of this radical contribution to the UK’s energy supply. Climate17 will support Rebel Energy with the recruitment of a number of specialists across Sales & Marketing, Energy Market Pricing and Business Operations, helping to build a core team of experts who will drive change forward.
There is no doubt the market will remain competitive, driven by new entries, exits and price. It is reasonable, however, to think that the focus will still move away from profit towards profit-for-purpose and social and environmental stewardship. Competition is no longer about only providing the cheapest service; it is about being able to embody our new future, and embracing changing customer expectations, behaviours and developing technologies.
Author: Stefania Allegrini – Marketing and Communications – https://www.climate17.com/