Assuming these insights hold true, the players on the future energy market could be the following:
- Plant owners: A large portion of these continue to be (groups of) individuals, mainly owning roof-top solar PV, on-shore wind and biogas plants. Many of them probably have non-energy-related occupations.
- Grid operators: In a liberalised energy market, grid operators are responsible for keeping their grid balanced and thus guarantee a reliable supply of electricity. They are generally not allowed to be energy suppliers or operate their own plants.
- Investors: Especially very large-scale projects, such as solar PV parks or off-shore and on-shore wind farms, will likely be backed by corporate investors or big utilities, because private investors can usually not cover the risk and cost volume involved.
- Energy suppliers: In the future, there might be a large number of suppliers with a sales focus and little involvement in the workings of the energy market. These suppliers might be platforms on which customers pick the features of their contract as they currently do with cell phone plans: the features could include flat rates or floating rates for different hours of the day.
- Digital utilities: They will focus on doing traditional energy industry work in a digital environment. This means that they network a large number of decentralised (renewable) energy plants and dispatch them smartly. They also provide services such as forecasting power generation from wind and PV plants, billing and imbalance trading. Due to the complexity of the optimisation problem involved in dispatching millions of individual plants, they will likely hire more software developers than traditional energy professionals.
According to this perspective, there is no room for analogous utilities on the future energy market. They now have to decide: will they be investors who are hardly involved in the operation of their plants, will they be energy suppliers without plants or will they be digital utilities?
This article was first published on www.euractiv.com
 These laws focus on electricity and they do so rightly, because electricity will be the core of the future energy world. The world will sooner or later go renewable. The Paris Agreement (limiting global average temperature increase well below 2°C) as well as European Renewables Directive 2009/28/EC (20 % of final energy consumption to come from renewable sources by 2020) and similar legislations outside of Europe bear witness to this fact. The electricity sector sees the strongest impetus in the transition towards renewables because electricity is the most versatile form of energy. Electricity can power all sorts of gadgets, but it can also produce heat or cold and power vehicles. For this reason the electricity market will see significant growth in the upcoming decades as large portions of the heating/cooling and transport sectors will go electric. The majority of the shift in transport from gasoline, diesel and kerosene will move towards electric motors, regardless of the battery/PV panel/fuel cell portion the market will be divided into; biofuels might play an important though comparatively minor role in future transport, potentially in the aerospace industry. Most of heating and cooling will likely be covered by (local) combined heat and power cycles; a smaller portion will be converted from electricity during times of excess wind and solar production.