The international energy event, Vaasa EnergyWeek, was organized for the sixth time at the end of March 2017 in Vaasa, Finland and Mäkitalo took part as it has for many years running! The annual event covers many topical energy related areas and boasts a variety of program items ranging from seminars, lectures, exhibitions and networking events. This year the event had grown and among other things ‘Gas Exchange’, an exhibition for gas industry actors, and ‘EnergySpin’, a dynamic startup matchmaking and presentation event, were introduced.
The energy field is very prominent and relevant at the moment and numerous subjects could be mentioned as the ‘hot topics’ of the week. These were a few that Mäkitalo was especially keen to follow:
There are considerable ongoing and foreseen changes in energy regulation. For example the regulation of gas markets is undergoing a major shift from monopoly to competition based.
Another area where interesting developments are anticipated is the Finnish electricity market. Many speakers throughout the week emphasized the importance of the price elasticity of demand. As the portion of renewable energy rises the capability of the electricity system to respond to peaks in electricity demand weakens. This creates an increased demand on consumer flexibility and a need to find a way to redirect demand to production peaks.
Finland’s grid is among the most developed globally: it is well-operated and maintained and the ‘intelligence’ level is extremely high with remote meters already registering electricity consumption on an hourly basis. This makes Finland an excellent place for forwarding innovation at the consumer end and helping to find workable ways to expand the price elasticity of demand. You can find more information on Finland’s smart grid here.
The above mentioned topic also ties in with another one of long-standing interest to Mäkitalo, namely the world of startups. Due to the fact that the energy field is undergoing fundamental changes it is a field particularly fruitful for startup driven changes and improvements. And while energy used to be an industry with relatively few actors it is quickly opening up to a far more diverse playing field. One could even go as far as to say that the carbon neutrality goals currently in place are so stringent that they necessitate dramatic solutions only possible for risk-taking and innovative businesses. Mäkitalo met many promising and inspiring startups which can hopefully add their share of advancement to the energy field. These ranged from companies focused on new battery and energy storage solutions to home automation solutions. You can see the full list compiled by Vaasa Entrepreneurship Society of the most promising energy startups in Europe here.