TOP 10 clean energy prediction for 2016

Following a strong performance in his 2015 predictions, Green Power Conferences Founder and CEO, Nadim Chaudhry shares his top 10 clean energy predictions for 2016…

  1. The Rise and Rise of Corporate Renewables

This year it will truly go mainstream especially off the back of Paris, businesses will be using increasing %’s of renewables globally – see RE 100 for a full list of the organisations committed to going to 100% Renewables. Multi-National Corporations will be at the forefront of leading renewables into certain countries and increasingly they will look at outright ownership of renewable assets and not just entering long term offtaker agreements. Solar especially is an easy asset to manage and doesn’t require heavy engineering skillsets.

Prediction: Every non energy Fortune 100 company will have ambitious renewable energy procurement programmes

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  1. Wind + Solar

It was a 2015 prediction too, but I only see increasing players entering both markets from technology to epc, to project developers, to actual projects, to O&M, to financiers to investors. Increasingly at Green Power’s global suite of events we are seeing an increasing mix of developers and financiers.

Prediction: a major hybrid project perhaps the retroactive adding of solar to a wind project

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  1. Coal Divestment, Renewables Investment

Risks are rising on fossil fuel investments and at the same time risks are decreasing on renewables, as the economics render subsidies unnecessary in ever increasing geographies, this reduces political risk in renewable investments. Allianz’s (€1.3trn assets under management) move to divest from coal is a precursor of things to come and we certainly see the coal for renewables swap gathering pace. Of particular interest is the Financial Stability Board rules which will ensure tougher rules on disclosure of fossil portfolio risks. Yieldcos could evolve from attracting investors searching for growth stocks linked to fast climbing companies and become steady state slow growth, predictable cash flow assets suitable for institutional funds?

Prediction: A major coal casualty either in supply or a generation stranded assets. What does one do with an old coal power station, Vattenfall have a few to sell?

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  1. Globalisation of the Solar Supply Chain

Various spats with dumping, local content and WTO rules are largely irrelevant, as the trend moves to a greater spread of major solar production facilities out of China by the PV Majors: Malaysia, India, Brazil, Thailand are all new manufacturing hubs.

Prediction: Africa becomes the new must have destination for solar module plants

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  1. A US Utility Leads the Way in Competing in the New Energy System

It’s election year in the largest political theatre, the US Clean Power Plan should gain momentum and positive press in creating a platform for the “Valley” tech giants and GE etc. to unlock efficiencies and disrupt the traditional world of the energy utility business model. The tax credit extensions will also help accelerate change and public perception, as do the Green Tea Party. Will an incoming Republican President be able to wind the clock back? Or will momentum gather enough political lobbying clout to offset the Koch brothers billion? Or will the Koch brothers give up and fully join the clean energy party…unlikely?

Prediction: A US utility shows the way to make money on running both centralised and decentralised assets at scale, offering installation and home services within a functioning market that regulates generation capacity, demand response and with storage assets. [Note I was thinking of David Crane at NRG but sadly not to be]

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  1. Oil Prices, Oil DEMAND and Electric Vehicles

McKinsey have a bullish prediction (Automotive Revolution pdf) of 15 years to 50% EV market share of new car sales, Saudia Aramco dismiss them as toys. I am with McKinsey on this one. Yes oil is cheap but a Prius driving taxi driver in Turin saves €4000 a year on fuel AND €1500 a year in brake rubbers. These unseen costs will help EV’s compete (1 moving EV part vs 100’s of moving parts in oil cars = lower cost of ownership). Urban transport is also changing and cars are losing their appeal. I’ve already seen gaps in London inner city streets, there are no longer bumper to bumper car parks. Long term the triple whammy of EV + Self drive + Uber like car sharing has the power to free time, reduce road death (globally 1.5m per annum), reduce road pollution, reduce costs and increase the utilisation of the global car fleet (cars typically sit idle for 96% of their life using up valuable urban real estate).

Prediction: I know its stupid to try and predict oil prices, but lets just say the July 2008 $147 per barrel will never be bettered.

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  1. Offshore Wind gets moving out of Europe

Offshore wind needs to reduce its cost base and increasing volumes of test sites and initial projects will help the technology stay on its experience curve as the costs head south. Asia is sure to be the main new markets with China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea growing and even Vietnam and Australia beginning plans.

Prediction: Two new offshore wind countries to join the party

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  1. Microgrids, Offgrid and Hybrid Systems gets traction

From slums to remote locations to islands, renewables will become ever present and the first thing people will do. More hybrid solutions will come online be it diesel + solar, mini hydro + wind, wind + solar, wind + fuelcells. How can platforms be combined and systems created to provide reliable customer focused solutions? Microgrids will help the 1.3bn people who lack light and 2bn still use fire and breathe smoke see SE4ALL

Prediction: Solar will be the way offgrid people get their first electricity, just as mobiles became the way the majority of people made their first call.

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  1. BIPV – Building Integrated Photovoltaics

Solar roof tiles, solar facades, solar bus stops, solar the building material. More and more buildings will start to work with solar as a fabric. Buildings without BIPV will get rarer.

Prediction: a breakthrough in material science such as with grapheme will get the BIPV world very excited.

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  1. Pumped Hydro Renaissance

The forgotten storage medium will face renewed interest as system planners and governments begin to realise ways to harness the future’s midday solar flood.