You’ve reached your limit!

To continue enjoying Utility Week Innovate, brought to you in association with Utility Week Live or gain unlimited Utility Week site access choose the option that applies to you below:

Register to access Utility Week Innovate

  • Get the latest insight on frontline business challenges
  • Receive specialist sector newsletters to keep you informed
  • Access our Utility Week Innovate content for free
  • Join us in bringing collaborative innovation to life at Utility Week Live

Login Register

Energy sector ‘lacks ambition’ on digital innovation, says techUK leader

“Without question” companies in the UK energy sector “lack ambition” in applying emerging digital technologies for innovation and efficiency gains, a trait which will lead to missed opportunities for economic growth and UK competitiveness. So says, Teodora Kaneva, head of smart infrastructure and systems at trade association techUK.

Speaking to Utility Week, Kaneva said that despite encouraging developments in energy flexibility markets, grid connection reform and regulatory change programmes which are essential for cost effective decarbonisation of the energy system, “there is a lot more ambition that we could have as a country to lead to transition to net zero.”

In a period of significant change for the energy sector, Kaneva says techUK “see a lot of doors opening”. But she added that many sector participants “have not captured the essence of what we could do”.

She lamented commonplace satisfaction with relatively unaspiring digital transformation initiatives in the energy sector. “I feel like a lot of people are happy to transition to the cloud and use some analytics, and they consider that they are done [within digital transformation]”.

This attitude means that significant opportunities to harness the potential of emerging technology fields, from AI through machine learning and quantum computing are being missed, Kaneva claimed.

In the wake of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s recent pronouncements on the UK’s approach to decarbonisation – widely labelled as a row back – Kaneva worried that deeply engrained “risk aversion” in the energy sector will mean the UK misses out on opportunities for economic growth.

Referencing recent papers published by techUK, Kaneva said there is significant evidence to suggest that more assertive digital transformation programmes in the sector could immediately unlock substantial GVA benefits for the UK. Meanwhile, advances in the commercialisation of technologies like quantum computing could bring previously unimagined opportunities for efficiency and innovation in data centre operations and data processing.

Kaneva suggested that many in the energy sector were caught napping by recent leaps forward in the accessibility and capability of AI. She also proposed there is a general lack of awareness across the sector about the accessibility and cost effectiveness of key technologies, including digital twins.

“It is not super costly to digitise certain aspects of your business,” she insisted.

Urging energy players to look abroad for inspiration on their digital transformation initiatives, Kaneva said that the USA and some countries in the Middle East are showing more ambition in the application of technology.

Kaneva shared these views with Utility Week ahead of a private round table debate to be hosted by Utility Week for energy sector leaders later this month. There, she will share opening remarks with industry participants, including insights into international exemplars.

If you would like to apply to attend this private lunch and debate event on 19 October, please contact [email protected]