This week, the Mercatus team attended the Future of Energy Summit, hosted every year by Bloomberg New Energy Finance in New York City. A premier event, BNEF summit is the pinnacle event for major players in energy, from CEOs to political figureheads, to come together to discuss the future of energy markets, industry, finance and policy.

 

The emphasis on a low carbon future was greater than ever at this year’s event, with accelerated climate change spurring greater need for renewables, and fast. While the initiative is in motion, with solar now just over 1% and wind 4% of global power production, two-thirds of energy generation is expected to be renewable by 2040. Investment figures are also skyrocketing, with $329B invested in renewables the past year. Opportunity in Asian and South American markets are also being recognized, where investments are rapidly growing.

 

With such large global initiatives and even greater investments to capitalize on, the question of the the future of clean energy is no longer why, but how? With governments setting higher goals and lending greater support, with extended PTC and ITC options, Secretary of Sate, John Kerry, set a calling for those in the private sector to continue to drive innovation and entrepreneurship, in order to achieve such an ambitious future.

 

In such times of drastic change, it was agreed by key industry figures that the need for strategy is key. CEO of Enel Green Power, Francesco Venturini, acknowledged that the future of distributed generation will require more complex strategies. In order to do this, Lisa Davis, of Siemens AG, put a greater emphasis on digitization of the energy project lifecycle, and the need to leverage today’s data more efficiently for tomorrow’s success. General Electric CEO, Maryrose Sylvester also acknowledged the need to use real-time data to make decisions, and faster. All in all, the need for effective energy investment management practices and stronger technology systems that can leverage such data will be crucial moving forward.

 

But with increasing efforts and resources being put towards renewables, consideration towards non-renewables needs to shift as well. David Crane, former CEO of NRG, acknowledged that as they increased their renewable investments, the biggest mistake made was not reducing their conventional portfolio. This is a error that many European utilities realised a little too late, and as a result are suffering the consequences. No matter the location, power producers can no longer afford to be oblivious to these costs. As Secretary of State, John Kerry, best summed it up, for energy industry influencers all over the world “…the cost of investing in clean energy now is far cheaper than paying for the consequences of climate change later.”