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Current± Predicts: The energy transition in 2020, part one

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

Matt Allen, CEO, Pivot Power

Energy storage and renewables will become a power couple.

Energy storage and renewables have been mentioned in the same breath a lot this year. But if that was a courtship, 2020 will see these two mega-areas of the industry cement into a solid marriage. In order to shift to net zero by 2050 (or sooner) storage and renewable capabilities must be built out in tandem. They are reliant on each other – solo renewable deployment has gone as far as it can go but with storage to balance intermittence and enhance the investment case, we can rapidly accelerate a global renewables roll out and lay the foundations of a strong market in which other services can operate to enhance zero carbon efficiency.

The merchant energy market will rise

Long gone are the days of subsidies, and rapidly evolving markets will make opportunities for savvy entrepreneurs and businesses, who can develop products and offerings with a clear climate conscience. Crucially, we’ll see our energy markets become deep pools – just like the balancing market draws on FFR, Dispatch and the BM, we will no longer need to pit entire business cases on a single stream. This will strengthen our market and attract the investment needed to supercharge transition timescales.

Political transparency will be a key focus

Europe now has a much more enlightened general public. The switch from public rhetoric of climate ‘change’ to climate ‘crisis’ is telling and this is the real hero of the last 12-18 months, with everyone fortified by the unswerving accountability demands of Greta Thunberg. We hope this will bring more transparency politically in 2020 and invite all industry leaders to join us in calling for it at every opportunity.

JoJo Hubbard, chief operating officer, Electron

The decarbonisation of heat

There’s been lots of press focus and tech investment in 2020, but very little physical progress across the UK due to high retrofit costs. By the end of next year I predict that there will be advanced conversations about bringing subsidies into this space.

Local trading

There’ll be a shift away from the focus on peer-to-peer energy trading to talking about network capacity trading. There have been various approaches trailed by DNOs (watch this space!), but increasingly local municipalities and energy communities will also begin to come into play e.g. to minimise grid footprints of new build energy assets and EV charging points.

It’s all about net zero

Partly because it’s exciting and attracting a lot more research, but also because COP26 is in Glasgow next year. The energy supply & networks industry will come together with the NGO and climate change industries (finally!), align language, and increasingly talk about carbon as part of the value stack. For example, this coming together will see us grappling with the fact that green certificates do not represent time of production vs use and probably need to start doing that.

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