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What Trends Are Shaping Energy in 2019? 18 Experts Share Their Insights

  • 29 June 2019
  • Sam Mire

Developed nations are no longer pretending that pollution is harmless. Whether it leads to real change or not, the fact that some of the world's largest polluters are acknowledging the need for change is a win. But what does that change look like on the ground level?

These industry insiders explain some of the trends that are shaping the energy sector in 2019 and beyond:

1. Pablo Quintero, CEO at Clean Initiative

“A trend that is shaping energy in 2019 is aggressive decarbonization goals by more states and territories. New Jersey, New York, and Puerto Rico have made strides to also be 100% renewable in the very near future. This is paving the way for other states to join the movement as well. These states will more than likely legislate carbon out of the energy system and let the utility companies decide how they will produce their energy needs. It is more apparent than ever that clean energy such as solar will be the obvious choice as the technology not only is equipped to handle our large-scale energy needs but create hundreds of thousands of jobs along the way.”


2. Victoria Brodsky, Director at Projects for Transformation

“Innovation in all areas of energy to promote efficiency in planetary and human health are trending right now. I think some of the biggest trends at the consumer level are waste reduction and the use of more sustainable products. For instance, consumers are starting to truly understand just how big the plastic problem is, so canned water is trending because the aluminum cans are more easily recycled than plastic bottles. I think that waste reduction, both at the consumer and enterprise level, are also trending. The idea that it's not just producing better products, but reducing the waste we produce is driving innovations in all areas of waste reduction.”


3. Jeremy Leggett, Founder and Board Director at Solarcentury

“The main trends shaping the great transition in the global energy system are the long-running cost reductions in solar PV, wind, and batteries. Then there is the rapid proliferation of electric vehicles, a technology where only a few percent of market penetration can have a disproportionate disruption effect on the incumbency. There are other exciting trends, like the growing numbers of electric aircraft developers.”


4. Brandon Schwarz, CEO of Indeavor

“As shown with the recent updates to API’s Recommended Practice 755, scheduling and fatigue management will sit at the head of the compliance table. Energy producers are not just going to be held accountable for efforts to “go green”; they will also be expected to comply to more stringent guidelines that limit employee hours and days of work. If these fatigue management guidelines are not taken into account at the point of scheduling, there will be greater consequences than ever before.”


5. Bill McKibben, co-founder and Senior Advisor at 350.org

“The rapid fall in the price of renewable energy. A solar panel costs 90 percent less than it did a decade ago that's about as disruptive as it gets. Sun and wind are now the cheapest ways to produce electrons.”


6. Mike Bumgardner, PE, Principal at WBM Group

“The greatest trend in energy is currently renewable energy, particularly solar photovoltaic (PV) modules. Solar energy saw a great increase in adoption over the past 10 years in the US due to tax incentives, governmental regulations and an ever decreasing cost of components.”


7. Krista Simicich, Content Editor at Solar Reviews

“Residential solar will be trending more in 2019 than ever before. Homeowners will be rushing to install solar before the 30% federal solar tax credit starts its decline at the end of the year. Between the decrease in the incentive and solar being cheaper than ever, it’s reasonable to expect this surge of installations in the industry. The decrease in the credit is a big deal because it has helped to boost the US renewable energy market for the past decade.”


8. Michael Hennessy, CEO of Wavelength Lighting

“In addition to an uptick in renewable energy generation, (wind and solar power is expected to reach 11 percent of the United States' total electric output this year), we're seeing a lot of individual action when it comes to increasing the sustainability of older buildings. Thinking just in terms of New York City, about 85% of existing buildings will still be here in 2050. As is, that's a lot of wasted energy. Retrofitting these buildings—through lighting, HVAC, heating, cooling, etc. projects—will be crucial to reducing our carbon footprint.”


9. Ken Kuhl, Vice President of Client Services at Logical Design Solutions

“For the first time in decades, energy utilities are facing changes that will require them to dramatically transform their businesses. The impact of reduced demand through renewable energy and battery storage, combined with greater options for consumers, will drive utilities to deliver more reliable electricity at lower costs; develop stronger customer relationships, which in turn will breed goodwill with regulators; support digitally-enabled prosumer and connected home strategies; and maximize the value of their asset base. In the 2020s we may finally see the disruption of this traditionally stable sector that is risk-averse and shielded by regulation.”


10. Keith Hevenor, Communication Manager, Nexamp Solar Energy Solutions

Keith Hevenor“The growth of distributed, large-scale solar farms is having a significant impact on the energy industry, making solar accessible to consumers who may not be able to or want to install rooftop panels for any reason. These community solar farms feed clean power to the local grid, generating energy credits for subscribers and reducing their monthly electric bills. The best community solar programs are open to everyone, with no-cost subscriptions, no long-term contracts and the option to cancel at any time. Serving hundreds of households from a single project, community solar farms are helping many states meet their renewable energy goals.”


11. Steve Hoy, CEO of Enosi Australia

“The major trends we see are:

1. the electrification of everything

2. the decentralization of electricity

3. the decarbonization of power

4. marginal costs falling towards zero

5. the digitalization of energy services.”


12. Morgen Henderson, Community Coordinator at Solar Power Authority

“The Paris Agreement has had an impact on the world as a whole and opened our eyes to how we can fight climate change. There are many companies and websites that are committed green living in all aspects and aim to educate readers about how they can easily live green without giving up their current lifestyle. Going off the grid doesn't appeal to everyone, so there are plenty of options for the everyday person to reduce energy use or switch to alternative sources for energy.”


13. François Le Scornet, President of Carbonexit Consulting

Francois Le Scornet“Intermittent energy integration, Increasing number of prosumers, Demand Response management, power aggregation, Virtual Power Plants, local market development, Intelligent asset condition monitoring, e-mobility integration, blockchain-supported power trading, and P2P trading are just some of the many moving pieces that compose the changing energy paradigm. They all have one thing in common: they all rely on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).”


14. Svein Tveitdal, Director at Klima2020

Fossil energy will continue to dominate the energy marked. Not due to lack of available technology but tremendous lobbying from the fossil industry. As a result of this, the world spent a staggering $5.2 trillion – or 6,5 percent of global GDP – on fossil fuel subsidies in 2017 according to the IMF. 5 times more than subsidies going to the renewable sector. If politicians had swopped this around we might see a drop in emissions on nearly 30 percent. It is in their hands but, unfortunately, they are still not yet prepared to act.”


15. Dr. Binu Parthan, Principal at Sustainable Energy Associates

“Increased investments in renewable energy and electrification of transport are key trends that are shaping the energy industry in 2019. Also important are the increases in energy efficiency, distribution of energy generation, deployment of energy storage on both supply and demand sides, consumers becoming prosumers, increased use of AI, robotics and blockchain, increases in electricity access in developing countries, shift to electric cooking and other appliances, as important trends that are shaping the industry this year.”


16. Andrew G. Swapp, MS ETE, Director of Wind Energy Technology at Mesalands Community College 

“Our energy use will diminish significantly. Some owners of Earthen homes with south facing greenhouses claim to produce over 70% of the food they consume. They collect and use 100% of the water they use. They use no other heating or cooling source than the thermal mass of their home. This is the most significant energy savings and the most accessible way to affect the energy picture across the board. Make dwellings that contribute to – instead of taking away from the overall energy picture. Sounds like a no brainer to me!”


17. Kate Colarulli, VP of Retention Marketing and Public Relations at CleanChoice Energy

“The two biggest forces shaping energy right now are affordability and access. Solar and wind are now cheaper than fossil fuels, even with energy storage—and innovation is continuing to lower costs. As the clean energy choice becomes the more economical choice, more and more people will make the switch to renewable energy. The other major trend is diversifying clean energy access. Community solar and retail choice are two clean energy options that have opened up the benefits of clean energy to a wider range of Americans. Rooftop solar is fantastic, but we also need renewable options for the millions of people that live in apartments, cities, don’t have the money for a substantial upfront investment, or aren’t comfortable with a home construction project. With CleanChoice Energy, you don’t need to install solar panels or even own your home, apartment, or business space to reduce your impact on the environment. You simply make the switch, and we make sure all the energyyou use is replenished on the grid with 100% clean wind and solar power.”


18. Michael Kaplan, Chief Marketing Officer of ENGIE Impact

“As the push for clean energy, stemming from consumer, corporate and government initiatives, continues to grow, we can expect increased renewable energy integration driven by trends like decentralization and decarbonization. Ever decreasing energy costs and stakeholder pressure will continue to push both corporations and cities to increase their investment in sustainable energy solutions.

Along the same lines, electric vehicles (EVs) also provide an opportunity for savings while also eliminating carbon emissions. As the technologies within EVs continue to advance, and prices for the vehicles reduce, consumers and corporations will adopt EVs at faster rates. New ‘as-a-service’ business models are also emerging in segments such as the public sector, which makes adoption of corporate EV fleets more viable in the near term.”

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About Sam Mire

Sam is a Market Research Analyst at Disruptor Daily. He's a trained journalist with experience in the field of disruptive technology. He’s versed in the impact that blockchain technology is having on industries of today, from healthcare to cannabis. He’s written extensively on the individuals and companies shaping the future of tech, working directly with many of them to advance their vision. Sam is known for writing work that brings value to industry professionals and the generally curious – as well as an occasional smile to the face.

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