Germany has chosen to leave the traditional path of unsustainable energy generation. Its promotion of renewables and its ultimately quick exit from nuclear power generation were bold moves which are being closely monitored around the world. The tremendous increase in renewable energy capacities as well as the outdated power grid now calls for new concepts, products, and forms of organizations. New mobility concepts and the desire to reduce our dependence on fossils lead to a greater intertwining of the supply infrastructures for electricity, heat, and primary energy. The status quo is a system which is both fragile and shapeable – in terms of politics, free market economy and culture. In addition, the big players in the energy sector are struggling and thusly opening a gap which creates attractive niches for small-scale, innovative businesses.
No matter which economic decision we make – restoring the old or expediting the new – significant investments will be needed.
And as investments need to pay off we have identified three lines of action in this respect:
The major power supplier for electricity, heat, or mobility need to reinvent themselves in cooperation with the associated supply industry and must carve out their future market segments as well as finding their future identities. They are largely responsible for the security of supply and will therefore remain crucial pillars. The task for the next few years is to ignite transformation processes leading to a realistic view of the markets and their sustainable management.
Smaller operations grow where the big players falter. The current ambiguity offers space for creativity. Recent developments are turning the energy market upside down. From the democratization of intelligent technology to innovative, crowd-based forms of financing. This brings amazing opportunities for new thinking.
There’s a huge potential for energy efficiency in construction, power engineering, mobility, and urbanity. Thoughtful interconnection can create unusual yet useful symbioses: for example, biogas plants that heat garden centers or the manufacturing industry serving as a supplier of heat. Imagine private buffer networks that take the strain off industry peak loads at the regional level.
We believe in the success of self-learning systems. A flourishing diversity of innovative regional initiatives are fostering creativity. It supports the anti-fragility of systems and strengthens the technological sector at the same time. Other regions can benefit from the practical experience gathered in these local projects. Thus decentralized learning turns the herculean task of the energy transition into manageable portions. In the Bosch Zukunftswerkstatt, we worked closely with experts from various divisions and used this principle to develop scenarios – user interfaces and prototypes for connected things and services that lead to future-oriented business areas.