Ethan Zindler of BNEF: U.S. Needs Energy Infrastructure to Take Advantage of Empowered Consumer, Plummeting Cleantech Costs

If you want to stay on top of the latest developments in cleantech, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) is without question one of the best sources of information and analysis available. For instance, recently BNEF’s “Head of Americas” analyst, Ethan Zindler, testified to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources regarding how the United States needs to “rethink its whole approach to energy infrastructure in the years ahead, in order to position its economy to benefit from the age of the empowered consumer and of tumbling costs for solar panels and batteries.” Here are a few key points, but definitely check out Zindler’s full statement.

  • The US is transforming how it generates, delivers, and consumes energy. These changes are fundamentally empowering business and home owners, presenting them with expanded choices and control.”
  • For instance, people can “choose their electricity supplier,” “produce power themselves with rooftop solar photovoltaic systems,” “even store it locally with new batteries.”
  • BNEF believes that “further growth and eventual mass adoption of these technologies is not possible, not probable, but inevitable given rapidly declining costs.” For instance, “the price of a photovoltaic module has fallen by 90% since 2008,” leading to a boom in solar generating capacity. “
  • “Similarly, the value of contracts signed to procure US wind power have dropped by approximately half as the industry has deployed larger, more productive turbines.”
  • Energy storage technology has also improved dramatically, while its cost has plummeted. “In the past five years, lithium-battery prices have fallen by at least 57% and we expect a further 60% drop by 2025. That will contribute to 9.5GWh/5.7GW of battery capacity in the US by 2024, up from 1.7GWh/0.9GW today.”
  • This, in turn, will help push rapid growth in electric vehicles (EVs), so that by 2030, “we anticipate that growing to one in four vehicles sold.”
  • All of these changes empower consumers and lead to “a new, more varied, more distributed world of energy generation and consumption.” The job for policymakers in this world is to “promote infrastructure that accommodates” this new world of distributed energy, including measures such as “facilitat[ing] the development of high-voltage transmission across state lines,” “expand support for EV charging stations,” and reforming “electricity markets to take into account the new realities of 21st century power supply and demand.”

We strongly endorse Ethan Zindler’s analysis and recommendations. We encourage policymakers to act on his advice.

 

 
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