New programmes help energy companies to apply the EU Clean Energy Package

The European energy sector is undergoing a huge transition. The measures in the EU Clean Energy Package are also forcing the established electricity companies to reassess their position in the market. With the support of InnoEnergy and in collaboration with Florence School of Regulation, Vlerick Business School is therefore launching several new programmes which aim to provide these companies with insights into the new business opportunities offered by the rapidly changing European energy landscape, and into how they can help to shape the transition in this way.

For several years now, InnoEnergy has been promoting innovation, entrepreneurship and education in the sustainable energy arena. This European institution falls under the broader scope of the EIT (European Institute of Innovation & Technology) which – alongside energy and other areas – also focuses on the financial, healthcare and climate sectors. “InnoEnergy's mission is to boost the European energy transition and to help companies develop the required clout in terms of their competences,” explains Kenne D’hoker (Manager Vlerick Energy Centre). “They receive European funding so they can set up public-private partnerships and invest in initiatives which can strengthen and support this transition.”

Education as a start-up

“As well as encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship, InnoEnergy also focuses strongly on education,” adds Leonardo Meeus (Professor of Energy Markets). “Until recently, their focus mainly lay on providing PhD students with financial support or offering grants for masters students. In their efforts to launch new programmes of their own for professionals, they sought out closer collaboration with business schools. As we had successfully launched the programme for Future Grid Managers – already in its 6th edition – they were soon knocking on Vlerick's door.”

Sense of urgency

The starting point for these new programmes was the EU Clean Energy Package. This ambitious package of measures was proposed by the European Commission in November 2016 and will come into effect as from 2020. By 2030, the challenges include reducing CO2 emissions by at least 40% and increasing energy consumption from renewable sources by 32%.

“This is now the fourth time that Europe has reformed the energy market, so the companies should already be on red alert”, says Leonardo. “The package of measures will be compulsory from 2020 onwards. Although the various players look at the package and realise that many things will have to change, they don't always know exactly what to do. The Florence School of Regulation, to which I am also affiliated, had already planned a new online course for this fourth reform, with the aim of stoking up the sense of urgency among the energy players. It was therefore logical to join forces with them in this partnership. They are the experts in regulation and the new EU measures and Vlerick has a great deal of experience in how companies should translate these measures into practice.”

Pioneering role

There appears to be a considerable need for these kinds of programmes, particularly among senior executives at the large, established energy companies. These are typically companies with a long history, which makes it hard for them to adapt to the new playing field. “With its Future Grid Managers, so far Vlerick has mainly been targeting the regulated players, namely the network operators. Through our new programmes, we are expanding the range to include the major utility companies, both wholesalers and retailers. In fact, it applies to all the market parties which come into contact with consumers, either directly or indirectly.

Workshops and in-depth interviews with many different stakeholders and companies allowed us to identify the specific development needs. “On the one hand, there was a great demand for guidance with regard to the new measures and on the other there were plenty of questions about the development of new business models and various leadership issues. We therefore constructed our modules from scratch,” explains Kenne.

“We didn't shy away from conflicts either,” adds Leo. “For example, EDF (one of the biggest European players) is hosting the first module, while module 3 focuses on Enercoop, a French cooperative which exclusively offers renewable energy. It is a typical example of a new player which is gaining more opportunities as a result of this fourth market reform.”

Three separate modules

Under the umbrella of ‘EU Clean Energy Package Master Class’, three modules were developed which are connected but can also be taken separately. These modules can be followed in any order. Module 1 focuses on regulation and is 100% online. This module dives deeper into the content of the Clean Energy Package. The second module, ‘Clean Energy Business Innovator’, mainly focuses on business model innovation. Finally, there is also ‘Leading the future of energy’ where the emphasis lies on leadership.

No equivalent ranges

The first (online) module has already been completed. Leonardo and Kenne can look back on this with satisfaction. “We had 95 participants from 26 different countries, half of whom were senior professionals. Almost 60% worked for an established energy company. In the end we even welcomed Klaus-Dieter Borchardt, director of the internal European energy market, for a closing debate during which the participants could enter into dialogue with him about the content of the Clean Energy Package.”

“I can even say that there is not a single equivalent training offering on the market at the moment. We have succeeded in creating a highly relevant and unique range thanks to the collaboration with InnoEnergy and Florence School of Regulation,” concludes Leonardo.

Discover our expertise in energy

The energy sector is likely to face more changes in the next 10 years than in the last 100. New technologies, organisational challenges, regulation… they will affect you, as a business and as a customer. But change also equals opportunities – even if there are no easy answers. The Vlerick Energy Centre will help you to master that change. We will challenge you to think ahead and find new solutions for tomorrow’s world.

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