Business Think Tank: Resolving Issues in the Energy transition

Europe has ambitious CO2 targets.
In order to achieve these targets focus will be on energy savings and large scale development of renewable energy sources (RES). 

Citizens want ‘energy autarky’ : consumers become Producers themselves, or Prosumers, leading to more de-central energy systems. In the context of Crowd Sourcing Week Europe 2015, utilising Synthetron, we asked the Crowd, including energy practitioners,  how to accelerate the transition to a de-central sustainable energy system, providing energy ‘autarky’ to consumers … ‘

Support for the initiative was overwhelming. People felt connected and engaged on the issue. However, at the Synthetron session itself (2 x 1 hour virtual collaboration) where brainstorming, discussion, alignment and issue resolution had to be done, the number of active participants was below  expectations. Is this what we observer around us : many opinions, media coverage, discussions, but a reluctance to get into the resolution/ activation modus ?

Although interaction and engagement in the Synthetron session was ‘high’, the consensus was ‘low’, with clearly opposite views. Nevertheless 2/3 of participants wants to become a pro-sumer. Half of them believes that  platforms like uber or Airbnb for energy will emerge, but also thinks that de-central renewable energy will be less than 5% of total production.

People want de-central renewable energy, it is technically feasible, and although legacy regulation is holding back market development, the main issue in the energy transition is around how to activate crowds in an impactful way.

Aspiring pro-sumers want things to be easy, flawless and effortless :

Do it all for me’ including cost benefit, technical assessment, installation, optimisation, operations … Demonstrate a stable financial return en maximise the value and the impact of my investment. Leverage this impact through a large & engaged crowd, possibly sharing investment and return (e.g sharded wind/solar park). “Make me and community self-sufficient in the long run …”

It is essential to educate policy makers and crowds/communities on future energy systems. All actors across the energy value chain should work together to develop a coherent, simple and accessible regulatory framework. This framework should provide a long term stable investment climate for renewables, and provide the space for new de-centralised business/service models, based on innovative technology to emerge on a large scale.


Joanne Celens

Joanne Celens Belgium CEO of Synthetron. She co-founded Synthetron  and is the CEO since  2007.  Joanne holds a degree in business  and in international relations. Previously she worked 18 years for Shell in various international  management positions

Joanne focuses  now on helping clients  with Synthetrons unique social brainstorm approach. The synthetron method allows to engage in one hour  10 to 1000 in moderated online interactive  chat type of discussions.

 Erwin Van Laethem

‘In his former position as CEO, Erwin established Essent as the undisputed leader in the energy market in NL, and contributed to the ‘Energy Agreement’ with >40 stakeholder groups.  As Chief Innovation Officer he initiated and lead the development of disruptive digital de-central business models based on o.a. big data, IoT and blockchain, and established innovation hubs in Silicon Valley, Berlin, London, Tel Aviv & Johannesburg.’

Originaly published on Erwin Van Laethem’s Linkedin 

These results were presented at Crowdsourcing Week Conference 2015