Smart energy boom paves way for surge in 'electech' M&A

October 25, 2017

 

The boom in renewable power and smart energy technologies has ignited a multi-billion dollar M&A frenzy that is set to drive the market for ‘electech’ in the coming years.

 

Energy companies have been slowly acquiring and merging with firms that specialise in ‘big data’ technology and artificial intelligence (AI). That movement appears to have reached a tipping point after the number of deals doubled in the last year, and deal values ballooned.

 

The average deal in the second quarter hit $3.5bn (£2.6bn), from an average of $500m a year ago, according to a report from BDO.

Jakob Sand, a partner at the advisory, has predicted further “quick-fire” M&A fuelled by the boom in energy start-ups and new solutions hitting the market.

 

“We are witnessing the early stages of what will become an M&A trend for years to come,” he said.

 

The roll-out of renewable energy and battery power is making the energy system more uncertain, prompting companies to tap the market for data providers that can help them forecast demand better, according to the report.

 

Technologies such as rooftop solar panels, battery storage and electric vehicles all make it increasingly possible for consumers - including households - to manage their own energy supply and demand.

 

This move may make energy use less predictable than in the past, but the boom in smart metering and digitally connected appliances will provide a deluge of data that could make the system more efficient than it was.

 

Many utilities are developing their own in-house skills or partnering with start-ups rather than opt for the M&A route.

 

Centrica, which owns British Gas, has channelled around £1bn away from traditional high-cost energy production in the last three years towards developing consumer-facing tech offerings such as smart thermostats and other home gadgets.

 

Meanwhile EDF Energy has partnered with Lightsource, a company that uses solar panels, batteries and intelligent algorithms to cut bills.

 

It is estimated that smart energy management could cut bills across Europe by an average of €58bn a year by 2035. Meanwhile the industry and service sectors could cut their energy use by 25pc.

 

“Making the demand for electricity ‘intelligent’ means that vital capacity can be provided when and where it is most needed and pave the way for a cleaner, more affordable, and more secure energy system,” Mr Sand added.

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