The key to the success of the 21st energy sector will be “putting the consumer at the centre of the market”, according to Chris Peeters of ELIA Group.

Speaking during the opening session of European Utility Week in Vienna this morning, Peeters said that the role of the consumer in Europe’s energy transition “is still underestimated by many players in the market at the moment”.

“It is not something that we can wait for,” he warned: “It is something that we must anticipate.”

Peeters explained: “What we see is that society is electrifying new sectors, such as transport and heating. And that is brining more flexibility.

“Electricity will be the future: society has changed it’s mind about some forms of energy, and we are seeing cities banning diesel.”

He said consumers – who are increasingly becoming prosumers – “do not wants energy as a commodity: they want energy as a service. Consumers want to optimal use of the energy transition. We need to expose the consumer to the upgraded energy market. We need to make sure that they are incentivised to become directly involved in the new energy system.

He said that to enable this consumer-centric energy, three things were needed: a real-time communication layer that is unique, open and secure; New digital tools for system operators, market actors and also for consumers; and an upgraded energy market so the consumer can value their flexibility and contribute to system management.