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Implementing new business models in the household sector energy transition
ESTIA, Bidart
ESTIA Recherche - IMS
Full Description:

Energy is becoming increasingly important for the European economy. The EU aims to secure its energy supply at affordable prices and reduce the environmental impact of energy use. The EU's energy priorities between 2010 and 2020 aims to increase the share of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) and improve energy efficiency by at least 20% through Rational Use of Energy (RUE). The household sector is especially concerned by the energy efficiency goal. By using energy more efficiently, Europeans can lower their energy bills, reduce their reliance on external suppliers of oil and gas, and help protect the environment (

Stakeholders involved in the household sector energy transition include users, energy utilities, homeappliance manufactures, etc. and the value chain between these stakeholders has been  modified due to recent technological changes: Home appliance manufacturers are constrained by minimum energy efficiency standards and labelling. Furthermore, new energy consumption types, like electric vehicles, are emerging, and more and more households are becoming private users of small scale renewable energy systems. Finally, households are now able to fine-tune their energy use thanks to smart meters that provide free access to data in real-time.

These technological changes could pose a threat for established companies that are unable to take advantage of these new technologies without modifying their usual business model. Indeed,  beyond product and service innovation, business model innovation will be a strategic mechanism for companies facing changes in the energy sector and a great opportunity for insiders (Rifkin 2008). However, business model innovation remains largely unspecified in the current literature (Bocken et al. 2014; Boons et Lüdeke-Freund 2013).

In this PhD we focus on changes that can make new business models possible and how companies can deal with the business model innovation process in the context of the household sector energy transition. New business models may modify functionalities and energy services, such as lighting, heating and electricity supply, through new product-service systems (PSS) based on high-performance equipment and a new relationship between value network partners (Rohrbeck, Konnertz, et Knab 2013). Furthermore, PSS is considered a promising system towards a more sustainable society (Reim, Parida, et Örtqvist 2014; Vezzoli et al. 2015). For example, in a  use-oriented or result-oriented service, the product is owned by its manufacturer who can also measure energy needs through smart meters and provide the energy necessary for it to work (Benedetti et al. 2015).

This PhD aims to answer the following questions: How will manufacturers’ design processes be  modified in order to take into account the characteristics of the new PSS? Can business model innovation be a leverage for integrating separate RES and RUE technologies into systemic level innovations for new PSS? And is it possible to develop a systemic method to assist companies in the deployment of these new business models? How can the value network partners’ scope vary in order to support new energy services and how will this value be delivered to households? Can new services, such as energy efficiency consultancies, emerge within these business models, creating value from a social and environmental point of view?

This PhD will be carried out within the framework of the Greenplay project, which is an EUfunded Horizon H2020 project. This project focuses on the creation of innovative IT ecosystems to develop services and applications making use of information generated by energy consumers (e.g. through social networks) or captured from sensors (e.g. smart meters, smart plugs, social media) and micro-generation. These applications range from Apps for smartphones and tablets to serious games to empower consumers, stimulate collaboration and enable full participation, aiming at between 15% and 30% of household energy savings. The PhD candidate will be part of a team that also includes a postdoc researcher. He/She will participate in Greenplay project meetings and contribute to project deliverables.

Benedetti, Miriam, Vittorio Cesarotti, Maria Holgado, Vito Introna, et Marco Macchi. 2015. « A Proposal for Energy Servicesʼ Classification Including a Product Service Systems Perspective ». Procedia CIRP 30.

Bocken, N.m.p., S.w. Short, P. Rana, et S. Evans. 2014. « A literature and practice review to develop sustainable business model archetypes ». Journal of Cleaner Production 65: 42‑56.

Boons, Frank, et Florian Lüdeke-Freund. 2013. « Business models for sustainable innovation: state-of-the-art and steps towards a research agenda ». Journal of Cleaner Production 45 : 9‑19.

Reim, Wiebke, Vinit Parida, et Daniel Örtqvist. 2014. « Product–Service Systems (PSS) business models and tactics – a systematic literature review ». Journal of Cleaner Production.

Rifkin, Jeremy. 2008. « The third industrial revolution ». Engineering & Technology 3 (7): 26‑27.

Rohrbeck, René, Lars Konnertz, et Sebastian Knab. 2013. « Collaborative business modelling for systemic and sustainability innovations ». International Journal of Technology Management 63 (1): 4‑23.

Vezzoli, Carlo, Fabrizio Ceschin, Jan Carel Diehl, et Cindy Kohtala. 2015. « New design challenges to widely implement ‘Sustainable Product–Service Systems’ ». Journal of Cleaner Production 97 : 1‑12.

Posted on: 01 June 2015Deadline to apply: 28 August 2015Start Date: 28 September 2015 Duration: 36 months
The Fund category is Mixed Funding and the salary is 20-25k€ annual gross
Doctoral School is Doctoral program in physical and engineering sciences in the Aquitaine Region.

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