ScottMadden, Inc., one of North America’s leading management consulting firms specializing in energy, recently released its latest edition of The ScottMadden Energy Industry Update (EIU). Themed “Running Up That Hill,” this EIU explores how the energy industry is attempting to do extraordinary things in extraordinary times.
More than a dozen U.S. electric utilities have announced 100% clean energy commitments, and several states have enacted similar legislation. These commitments are becoming increasingly common, and the public sentiment toward these efforts is largely favorable. But how will they accomplish these ambitious goals? It will require massive capital investments, a transition to new technologies (some yet to be commercialized), and changes to grid operations. Since 2005, the shift from coal to natural gas as a power generation fuel has driven more than 60% of energy-related CO2 emissions reductions in the United States. As we advance, there is likely to be considerable traction gained from new agents of change—renewable energy resources and battery storage.
ScottMadden reviewed five recent integrated resource plans (IRPs) to understand how some electric utilities are planning to pursue decarbonization over the next 15 years. The themes and strategies that span these IRPs may provide a roadmap—or some pointers—to other electric utilities considering clean energy goals or strategies. As the EIU highlights, an emerging trend is the reliance on and expansion of renewable energy and battery storage capacity.
“A number of tools are being considered by utilities and states that have committed to clean energy targets,” explains Cristin Lyons, partner and energy practice leader at ScottMadden. “These include small modular nuclear generation, the use of hydrogen, and significant advances in battery storage. We’re hopeful that over the long-term the markets will begin to value some of these resources in a way that provides reliable, cost-effective, and lower-emitting power to customers.”
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