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NEWS2024-02-24

Tomorrow's energy services: between collaboration and co-creation

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To make a success of the energy transition, it is necessary to take into account all the interests and constraints of the stakeholders, i.e. society in general. Each stakeholder must have a specific role and place, and the pivotal player or players are those who will unite all these stakeholders around an energy transition project. The aim of this research is to study the role played by the pivotal player and the different organizational models that result. Recognizing that if we are to survive in the future, we need to work towards the energy transition, more and more companies are getting involved and joining forces to experiment with new forms of services and products. Indeed, the emergence of new technologies, the associated technical complexities and the societal issues linked to the sector, are driving companies and also other structures (associative and institutional, for example) to work together to combine their know-how and knowledge of the field. The energy transition is prompting companies to renew themselves and move towards new models of cooperation in order to innovate and create energy services that meet these requirements and societal challenges. We are thus moving from a standard market to a sort of jigsaw puzzle, where a multitude of players (companies, local authorities, citizens) must learn to work together. Through case studies, the Energy for Society Chair analyzes these new models of cooperation and seeks to identify how a group of heterogeneous partners (public or private, competing or complementary) can successfully co-create new, innovative energy services.

Recognizing that if we are to survive in the future, we need to work towards the energy transition, more and more companies are getting involved and joining forces to experiment with new forms of services and products.

Indeed, the emergence of new technologies, the associated technical complexities and the societal issues linked to the sector, are driving companies and also other structures (associative and institutional, for example) to work together to combine their know-how and knowledge of the field. The energy transition is prompting companies to renew themselves and move towards new models of cooperation in order to innovate and create energy services that meet these requirements and societal challenges.

We are thus moving from a standard market to a sort of jigsaw puzzle, where a multitude of players (companies, local authorities, citizens) must learn to work together. Through case studies, the Energy for Society Chair analyzes these new models of cooperation and seeks to identify how a group of heterogeneous partners (public or private, competing or complementary) can successfully co-create new, innovative energy services.

 

Case studies to date

  • Zero Emission Valley - ZEV - (involvement of public authorities): This project aims to accelerate the adoption of hydrogen-powered vehicles by building the necessary infrastructure in the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region (hydrogen stations). What makes this project special is its regional scale, its budget of €70 million over 10 years, its desire to anticipate and prepare future solutions for deployment in other regions and internationally, and its public-private partnership. 

The ZEV project enables us to study the conditions for aligning and federating players within the framework of a project with strong political backing.

  • H2 mobility - German project - (involvement of public authorities) : The aim of this project is to develop hydrogen-powered vehicles by building around 100 hydrogen filling stations in 7 German cities and along major roads by the end of 2020. The ultimate goal is to reach 300 stations. The project is unique in that it involves collaboration between competing companies, and is national in scope (nationwide deployment, financed by national grants).

The project will enable us to study the conditions of alignment and federation of private/public players, and to observe the mechanisms of collaboration between several competing entities.

  • Autonomous Building for citizens - ABC - (involvement of public authorities and users): ABC is an autonomous building in Grenoble, designed to have minimal energy requirements. It generates and stores renewable electricity for its own consumption. Tenants are seen as central players: they need to adapt their behavior so that the building can reach its level of autonomy (70%). To achieve this, they are supported by monthly workshops and individual monitoring of their consumption habits.

The ABC project will enable us to study and understand the conditions required for the pivotal player to unite and federate smaller companies around him, as well as the end-users, i.e. the tenants.
The methodology used is that of a case study, with semi-directive interviews of key players.

 

The convergence of individual interests and the role of pivotal players

To ensure the success of a cooperative project, it is necessary to identify the interests and constraints of each party, so that a collective interest can emerge or be reinforced. From the outset, it is vital to understand how and to what extent stakeholders are willing to work together to develop such projects and bring them to fruition.


What's interesting in terms of research here is to observe at what level the various partners need to be in phase for there to be a sublimation of the collective interest that emerges. How do these individual interests come together to create value and innovation, or how is project governance organized to ensure that all the bricks fit together? One of the key points of this research is to study the role played by the pivotal player(s) and the different organizational models that emerge.


For example, within the ZEV project, driven by a local authority, each player had its own interest in joining the project: the leader in the mobility sector is looking to innovate and diversify; and the energy company, as part of its new strategy, wants to position itself as a leader in new energies, including in the mobility sector. The interests of each are different, even competing in the case of H2 Mobility, but the players are united in their approach: going beyond their differences to co-create something new (in this case, developing a network of hydrogen vehicle recharging stations) to serve citizens, the company and the energy transition. It's also important to note that, for ZEV as for the H2 Mobility project, the catalyst for collaboration was the impetus given to the project by the public authorities. What was the role of each partner and the public authorities? Under what conditions did the players in each ecosystem align? Our analysis will be enriched by comparing the French ZEV project with its German counterpart, the H2 Mobility project.


In the ABC project, the players all share a common desire to work towards the energy transition, but have different constraints and operating methods. On the one hand, the pivotal company has a vision, ideas and the financial capacity to innovate, while on the other, innovative SMEs need reassurance and financing. In this case, the main challenge for the pivotal company was to bring together and convince innovative SMEs to invest in an ambitious project, bypassing the uncertainties of success. Initially, this research will focus on analyzing the various uncertainties encountered by the consortium and the role of the pivotal player in managing them. Secondly, this fieldwork will enable us to better understand whether and how the alignment of the ABC project's players persists over time. ABC also illustrates the fact that stakeholders in collaborative projects are not just firms or public authorities, but also citizens/consumers.

 

Towards new business models

As mentioned above, in these cooperative models, each player has different challenges at stake: staying at the forefront of innovation, staying in the market, developing new services to meet end-user needs, and so on. What's interesting is that they need each other to make their respective business models work, and thus ensure the sustainability of their structures.


By studying the various cases presented above, the researchers at the Energy for Society Chair aim to identify and characterize these new organizational models, so as to be able to support and advise companies (and other structures) in setting up sustainable collaborative projects.


The results of this research will be published on our website. Initial findings should be available in early 2021.

 

Researchers associated with this project 

•    Anne Lorène Vernay, Associate Professor 
•    Nuria Moratal, Post-Doc Chair Energy for Society
•    Carine Sebi, Associate Professor 

 

  • Chair
  • Energy
  • Work-study

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