Mapping the Emerging Personal Energy Market
As this Consumer Maturity Model shows, consumers need help as they start to sort themselves into different market segments and different levels of maturity, as they move at their own pace up this curve.
The Energy Poor. At the base of this model are those unfortunate folks who do not have access to grid power. There are approximately 1.5 B people in the world, believe it or not, in this state. The challenge here is is that they are not connected to a grid, and their traditional energy solutions are expensive (diesel) or deadly (wood combustion inside the home). While this model shows them also to be unaware, they may well be aware, but are simply unable to overcome their circumstances and lack of connectivity. A future option may be to bypass the grid altogether and move on to Level 5, 6, and 7 with onsite energy solutions.
The Unconscious Consumer. This category includes the majority of energy consumers today, who mostly focus on two things – paying their energy bill and getting the power back on when it goes out. Otherwise, they don’t give a lot of thought to energy, or climate change for that matter. Moving up to the next level will involve the consumer becoming more aware about energy and their personal carbon footprint – gaining consciousness about the role of energy in their lives is the first step. Passive and unaware, these energy consumers need information most of all to increase their awareness of impending changes and causal relationships. They require orientation to become aware of new possibilities.
The Awakening Consumer. As consumers become more aware, they continue to gain knowledge, growing in unique directions based on their unique interests and personal situations. These consumers become potential participants in utility programs or experimental pilots offered by utilities, service providers, or third party energy innovators. As newly aware consumers gradually become more active, they grow in competence and sophistication.
The Mobilizing Customer. As energy consumers continue to mature, they shift from simple awareness, maybe including monitoring their energy use, to actively managing their energy consumption. Active, aware consumers gain more skills, adapting their behavior, typically with initial focus on eliminating wasteful use of energy. Energy Efficiency (EE) has been described as the most effective step to take with regard to energy. EE activities typically involve large and small investments in the building (e.g., insulation, window sealing, etc) and the appliances inside (Energy Star appliances, LED lightbulbs, etc.), with the goal of permanent reduction of the monthly energy bill.
The Conserving Customer. After the low-hanging fruit of eliminating wasteful energy consumption, the next direction is to become more engaged, perhaps by curtailing load on demand in cooperation with the utility (i.e., demand response or DR), or increasingly by investing in on site energy production (i.e., distributed generation or DG). With advanced behavior and increasing experience, the customer becomes a utility partner, now responding to utility requests to shave peak and participating in utility rebate programs.
The Innovating Prosumer. With the integration of onsite energy systems (i.e., distributed energy resources or DER), the customer transforms into a prosumer (i.e., both consuming and producing energy). This higher order state may involve utility payments for providing edge-based power and ancillary services, for instance. Ultimately, the prosumer is shifting perspective to innovation, with assets they can direct to produce new revenue, perhaps in an emerging peer-to-peer energy market.
The Networking Prosumer. Finally, the energy prosumer reaches his or her most advanced state, innovating and networking regionally to expand influence with social networks, engaging with a peer community comprised of a variety of stakeholders with a common goal to redefine the energy ecosystem and lower carbon footprint to actively address climate change.