Innovating to disrupt the energy market

Experts believe the world hit peak coal in the late 1990s. The consensus between industry experts and analysts is that we’ll hit peak oil any time between 2010 and 2030. However, at last week’s Energy News Live Future Energy event, I learned that the UK hit peak horse power in 1922.

It’s a quirky fact and I should credit it to Robert Llewellyn, of Red Dwarf legend and a true energy tech evangelist, who joined me on a panel to discuss the future of energy at the conference.

When discussing the future of energy, the word ‘innovation’ is used a lot. It’s a top answer in buzzword bingo, with ‘disrupter’ running a close second. It’s only natural for businesses to go after something which could transform how and what they do and there is no denying that innovation and energy tech is really changing the energy market. The clear trends I see are:

  • The energy market is moving from a centralised, planned world to a local model.
  • Businesses will move from monthly planning to real-time decisions.
  • There will be flexible two-way models, where users may consume or generate energy depending on market conditions.
  • The definition of an ‘energy supplier’ will become blurred – you could be a supplier to a local community one day, and customer the next.

british gas

There are massive opportunities for businesses to take control of their energy and become more efficient. British businesses are still spending around £20bn a year on energy and we believe that could be brought down by up to 20 per cent through energy efficiency improvements alone.

As part of Centrica, British Gas business is in a unique position in having access to an in-house team of distributed energy experts and traders that can help customers to navigate the complexities of the changing energy landscape and unlock real value from their assets.

A first step for many businesses is to understand exactly how they are using energy – to have better insight. Working with the Panoramic Power team, we can give customers real-time visibility of their electricity use – armed with this data they can identify opportunities to drive down their energy use and/or install new technologies.

With clear insight businesses can better optimise their assets –we want to help customers make the most of what they already have.

I often wonder how many companies and organisations which have back-up generators appreciate that instead of standing idle they could be earning money by exporting power back to the grid. 

We’re also working with the Distributed Energy & Power business to help UK businesses design energy solutions, install and maintain systems to help them generate their own energy on site such as solar, combined heat and power (CHP) and heat pumps.

Investing in on-site generation can reduce costs, generate income, improve resilience and reduce carbon emissions.

It’s clear that innovation and disruptive technology will be critical for the future of any business, and how they harness either new technologies or solutions will set successful organisations apart.

That’s why we joined together with Energy Live News at Leicester Space Centre, with some of the most forward thinking companies in the world, to showcase how the changes happening in the energy system are providing massive opportunities for businesses to take control of energy and become more efficient.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within the British Gas Business Blog are those of the author alone and do not represent those of British Gas. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this blog are not guaranteed. British Gas accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright in the content within the British Gas Business Blog belongs to the authors of such content and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them. For more information about the mix of fuels used to generate our electricity simply visit You can find information about how to make a complaint at