An all-women panel of seven industry experts today outlined how the combination of digitalization and decentralization could transform the European energy sector.

“The energy sector is changing profoundly,” said Frauke Thies, executive director of smartEn, at European Utility Week in Vienna. “We are seeing new actors, new business models and new ways of trading.”

Barbara Cuitino, global partner manager for energy and natural resources at SAP, said that “information technology can make the energy world run better. That might sound quite philanthropic or even romantic, but it is the needs of the energy industry to diversify and decarbonize that is making this vision concrete.”

She said that digital technologies were enabling utility companies to “automate all repetitive tasks” and added that “new business models are getting more and more based on data: your new perspectives are going to be focused on data”.

However, unlocking this digital potential is about more than just technology. “We need to change our assumptions and challenge our mindset,” said Signe Horn Rosted of energinet in Denmark.

“The value chain is changing. The development of the sector in the past was linear. Now we see deep decentralization and other developments that we were not planning for. We have to move to a logic mindset of exponential development. And we have to set data free – data is the key.”

And Francesca Vergara or Italgas said that her company was one which had already “embraced the agility of digitalization – digital is all about learning by doing.”