Beyond the Meter - Season preview - Smart Energy Decisions

Beyond the Meter - Episode 1: The Renewable Energy Outlook For 2019 And Beyond

The Renewable Energy Outlook For 2019 And Beyond  


When considering both the future of the planet and the future of both industry and human thriving worldwide, the renewable energy outlook is of paramount importance. Renewable energy is of vital concern simply because cultures worldwide consume energy as part of everyday life. Renewable sources of energy are of such great importance for two main reasons:

  1. Renewable energy sources, by definition, never deplete
  2. Renewable energy options provide a way for humanity to step away from environmentally damaging fossil fuels

This conversation is an exploration into the renewable energy outlook for the near future, led by Smart Energy Decisions founder, John Failla. John speaks with Chris Fallon, Vice President of Duke Energy Renewables and Kyle Harrison of Bloomberg NEF about the future of renewable energy through the lens of varied approaches and ideas. You’ll receive a broad overview of the current state of the renewable energy industry, hear the challenges being addressed currently, and gain an optimistic perspective relating to what can be done to make renewable energy more available and useful in the future. And keep reading below to see some of the specific topics addressed in this conversation.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:20] Why a tangible commitment to sustainability goals is the first step for companies
  • [5:15] What’s happening with companies regarding ESG investing and Green bonds?
  • [9:18] The economics of renewable energy: a double-edged sword
  • [13:18] Community Solar: the opportunities and challenges
  • [16:38] The future of large scale virtual Power Purchase Agreements
  • [22:22] Utility green tariff programs: what’s the future?
  • [27:33] Retail supply products in the renewable energy outlook
  • [30:56] Are there opportunities to integrate RE procurement with other initiatives?
  • [33:00] What might accelerate or slow the growth of renewable energy?

The renewable energy outlook relies heavily on companies

Companies, both large and small, are by far some of the largest consumers of energy worldwide. That means if companies make a commitment to renewable energy use rather than traditional fossil fuel use, the renewable energy industry will take a giant step forward. As of 2018, 42% of companies have stated both renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals. Today, just over 190 companies have set target dates by which they intend to offset 100% of their energy consumption with renewable energy. Those are promising facts, which will require aggressive emissions reduction steps - and buying clean energy is one of the best ways to do so.

Listen to hear the stories of companies that are striving toward their renewable energy goals and to understand the challenges they face in doing so. 

The economics of renewable energy: a double-edged sword

Two of the most obvious and in-demand sources of renewable energy are wind and solar. Costs have come down in both of those branches of the industry, which has made clean energy more attractive for corporate buyers. But though the low cost makes renewable energy very attractive, there are difficulties to be overcome. Kyle Harrison refers to this conundrum as a double-edged sword.

Both wind and solar operate at zero marginal cost - which means that in some markets there is an over-saturation of renewable energy produced by solar or wind generation. When this happens, prices are depressed, which in turn decreases the profitability of the installations generating that power. When that’s the case, it makes signing energy procurement deals in those particular markets that work financially for both provider and consumer, difficult at best. 

In this conversation, you’ll also learn how some corporate customers are looking at renewable energy as a risk mitigation play - taking advantage of the tax incentives offered by the government for using renewables by trying to lock in the benefits of low rates for a longer period of time.

The opportunity of community solar

When we talk about “Community Solar” projects, we’re referring to local solar facilities that are shared by multiple community subscribers (companies in most cases.). Those subscribers receive credit on their electricity bills for their agreed-upon share of the power produced. It’s a model of solar production and usage that is being adopted nationwide. Companies that participate receive the flexibility of an on-site project under purchase or lease agreements.

Not only does a subscriber company benefit by transferring some of their energy supply to renewable energy they also receive the benefit of having a good PR story to tell to the media and customers and shareholders. Unfortunately, Community Solar is not an effective way to meet the overall energy demands of most companies.

Listen to hear why Community Solar is one of the fastest-growing segments within the solar market, why there is a great deal of interest in community solar, and how companies can participate in Community Solar projects in spite of the limitations of their own facilities.

Retail supply products are promising, but present challenges of their own

Both Kyle and Chris believe there is a great opportunity for an aggregator or integrator to look at the total energy supply and find ways to meet customer desires to become more green through providing renewable energy products on a retail basis. So far, these programs have not scaled up very rapidly because of the questions surrounding “additionality.” This simply means that companies are eager to contribute to renewable energy development that is truly new to the power grid, thus additional.

 In this conversation, you’ll learn more about how retail supply products could serve specific customers well, what the challenges are for companies who use this model, and how they are overcoming them.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Kyle or Chris

All Episodes of Beyond The Meter

If you’d like more information on Duke Energy Renewables or REC Solar, please visit:

Duke Energy Renewables
REC Solar

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