Geo-engineering the business climate instead of the natural one can help start-ups

Researchers compared digital business models for renewable energy start-ups for solar and wind power. The market included digital technologies, customer orientation, delivery of value and revenue stream. They collected start-up data from the deal room database and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Technologies used included ‘deep tech’, artificial intelligence, blockchain, ‘deep learning’, machine learning, big data, IOT etc Most start-ups used one or more of these.

The most common technological challenges identified are energy storage and security of supplies by energy providers. The researchers developed a model using R, based on the themes identified in existing research around tech, customer orientation, delivery of value and revenue stream. They looked at the impact of big-tech investment in these start-ups. They analysed the affect of internet connected technologies on traditional business models, for example using e-commerce and operations to deliver digital products and services. They found that

The largest, but still small, storage capacity of renewable energy is recorded for water turbine plants, which still represent the most significant source of renewable electricity in the world (about 94.6% in 2000 and 62.1% in 2019). Between 2010 and 2019, the storage of energy in pumped storage power plants accounted for between approximately 3.1% and 2.6% of the world’s total hydropower generationy.

Pakulska T, Poniatowska-Jaksch (2022)

386 start-ups out of 7954 used newer digital technologies for renewable energy products and services, affected by big-tech companies choice of investment. Deep tech takes long time to reach market maturity and needs significant capital investment, mostly used in energy storage. 14% of solar energy start-ups and 23% of all wind energy start-ups use at least one of the identified technologies above. Start-ups base their revenue on subscription or commission models. Big tech generally invests only in manufacturing and not overall digital business operations and services.

They suggest that a faster transformation of energy to more renewable sources such as solar and wind power depends on how policies and the regulatory framework adapts, how implementation of grants support start-ups and how market players can help them develop more innovative business models.

Pakulska T, Poniatowska-Jaksch M. (2022) Digitalization in the Renewable Energy Sector—New Market Players. Energies; 15(13):4714.

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