New South Wales (NSW) is on the cusp of a high-growth spurt slated to create expanded urban cities backed by sustainable energy choices. Fueled by the state’s 20-year plan to make electricity cheap, clean, and reliable, this transformation positions electricity network distributor, Endeavour Energy, squarely at the forefront of change.
“Providing sustainable energy to greenfield opportunities in brand new cities and infrastructure is fairly easy compared to older suburbs,” said Guy Chalkley, CEO of Endeavour Energy. “The bigger challenge is transitioning existing customers to a cleaner future. This transforms our company’s business model from historically building assets that keep the lights on to delivering sustainable energy in response to customer preferences like solar panels and EV charging stations.”
Endeavour Energy transports traditional and renewable energy to over 1.2 million people living and working across Sydney’s Greater West, a region that’s considered Australia’s third largest economy. I caught up with Chalkley at the International SAP Conference for Energy and Utilities in Basel, after his remarks on an expert panel during the keynote.
Sustainable energy providers dial up adaptability
While Australia is experiencing energy industry disruptions similar to the rest of the world, power networks have been going through fundamental changes in the last few years, chief among them a whole new perspective on customers.
“The biggest risk we face as an industry is that some people still think disruption is happening. They have to accept that it’s already happened,” said Chalkley. “Our customers aren’t just people who want power 24 hours a day. They are people who want to sell energy from solar panels back to us, store their own energy, and charge their electric vehicles. In this kind of changing environment, you have to think iteratively from a future point to envision what that looks like on 2025 and work backwards.”
Digitalisation is core to sustainable future
Admitting that the utility industry has not been a first mover in digitalisation like retail or telecommunications, Chalkley called on leaders to embrace the innovation that will help them adapt to customer needs. EVs are a prime example of a currently nascent but fast-growing and inevitable market opportunity.
“A massive uptake of EVs will happen quickly, and the networks will need to respond because they have no choice. Think about where we’ll be in 2030 or 2040 and what we need to get near that constellation,” he said. “Get comfortable in that uncomfortable space that allows people to make mistakes. Don’t chase perfection because these solutions aren’t nailed down. Listen to many diverse voices in the room to keep learning and challenging yourself so you can move forward.”
Co-innovate clean energy with communities
As a longtime SAP customer, Chalkley said that Endeavour Energy was committed to finding the right solutions that will deliver the best customer experience. He saw flexible partnerships critical to the rapidly transforming energy industry.
“SAP solutions like SAP S/4HANA have given us a stable foundation, and we can start leveraging the greatest value from partnerships along the energy value chain,” he said. “We might co-innovate with the customer to build a new solution, then partner with SAP to enable that solution. Suppose a real estate developer is constructing two 50-story buildings. When everyone has an EV in five years or so, we need to have those charging capabilities in the network to meet those future requirements. As a provider, you’re more like a consultancy as opposed to building a substation and connecting the power with poles and wires.”
In one project, Endeavor Energy is building a micro-grid designed to provide a resilient, renewable, and reliable power supply to the coastal communities of Bawley Point and Kioloa in NSW.
Acting on sustainable business obligations
The Australian government expects the population of Greater Western Sydney to continue rising. Supplying both urban and rural communities with sustainable energy that supports the region’s growing infrastructure and services is key to economic success for providers and the people they serve. The good news is that energy providers are starting to act on the level of rapid and monumental change that has roiled the industry.
“The industry is now moving quickly, forcing organizations to make choices and keep progressing even though we don’t know everything at this point,” said Chalkley. “In addition to running our business, we have an obligation to make sure the future is secure as well. You do that by working with the entire community.”
This article originally appeared on Forbes Brand Voice here