Opower looks to replicate US success in Europe

A US energy efficiency firm whose fans include Barack Obama and David Cameron is now looking to transfer its rapid growth across the Atlantic to Europe.

Opower has expanded to be worth an estimated $1bn after signing contracts with 60 US utilities since being established in 2007. Opower claims 10 million users in the US alone.

It has brought in revenues of $11.4m over the year from software that lets homeowners measure and benchmark their energy use and access reports containing tips on lowering consumption. Now the company’s European expansion drive has seen it clinch a deal with First Utility in the UK. Discussions are ongoing with several other European companies. Moreover, Opower is doing business in the Middle East and Africa as well.

The targets to roll out 53 million smart meters and the flagship £14bn Green Deal energy efficiency scheme make the UK an attractive market. The average consumer spends six minutes a year thinking about energy consumption. If utilities are seen to be efficient and optimizing [consumers’] consumption, they think of them as good providers. Smart meters and in-home displays [coming in] mean people will want more accurate information about their energy use. But data isn’t everything – the technology is only as efficient as the people that use it. You have to have insights on how to cut consumption as well.

Part of Opower’s success has been down to embracing new ways of communicating with customers – the company teamed up with social networking site Facebook last year to launch an app that lets consumers compare their bill with their friends. They are keen to look at the power of social networking to raise awareness of energy consumption. The Facebook platform enables consumers to benchmark their energy usage against the notional average of similar homes. People can enter competitions, share energy saving tips, all across the world.

There is a high growth environment in Europe and they are looking to capitalize.

Photo Courtesy: Will Nichols

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  • 3 Jan, 2012
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