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LOOKING INTO 2020

image credit: © CristinaConti | Dreamstime.com

This item is part of the Predictions & Trends - Special Issue - 01/2020, click here for more

For 2020? One should expect pretty much continuing trends of the last several years with the one possible wildcard, 2020 being an election year.

Over the last few years, there has been a steady increase in interest in the following, so we can expect more discussions about:

               Natural gas and power

               Electric vehicles

“Climate Change”, followed by Block Chain and “Coal-and-the-Power-Industry” remain the greatest expressed interest, albeit declining ones.

For example, regarding Climate Change: Forrester Research in their 2020 tech-related outlook mentions “In 2017, 52% of consumers said they actively consider company values when making a purchase”, and they expect that to rise to more than 55% this year. This can have a direct effect on electric utilities with customers having renewable options.

Indirectly, expect to hear more from all companies including your suppliers about renewables and climate change. This easily overlaps with the increased usage of natural gas especially given low expected natural gas prices, not to mention the cost advantage of natural gas over crude oil as a feedstock source as well:

Per DOE/EIA forecasts from their latest Annual Review:

YEAR

WTI Crude Oil $/Bbl nominal

Nat Gas Henry Hub $/MMBTU nominal

Ratio Oil/ NatGas

2016

$43.48

$2.55

17.4

2017

$50.79

$3.02

16.8

2018

$68.46

$2.99

22.9

2019

$69.56

$3.10

22.4

2020

$73.42

$3.25

22.6

2021

$77.01

$3.24

23.8

2022

$78.18

$3.33

23.5

As noted earlier though, 2020 being an Election Year, it’s a bit of a wildcard, as are promises made and ones implemented after 2020.  Infrastructure spending comes to mind, especially T&D and effects on wildfire brush-clearing and cybersecurity.

It appears the power industry has not commanded the attention of candidates during election years as one might hope.  Interestingly for every Presidential election year 2000 thru 2016, the following search terms have seen DECREASED interest compared to the prior election:

  • “Artificial Intelligence” OR “AI” AND the “electric power industry”
  • “Coal-powered” OR “coal-power plants”
  • “Energy efficiency standards”
  • “Electric power generation”
  • “Nuclear power plant”
  • “Power industry”

Suspicions are certain topics may be more important to distinct geographies and/or particular social-demographic segments versus a national basis.  Six states and D.C. have recently increased their renewables portfolio standards; only Ohio has issued a decline. Also, several states (all on each coast) now have battery storage and offshore wind mandates.

David Bridgeman's picture

Thank David for the Post!

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Discussions

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Feb 5, 2020 5:41 pm GMT

As noted earlier though, 2020 being an Election Year, it’s a bit of a wildcard, as are promises made and ones implemented after 2020.  Infrastructure spending comes to mind, especially T&D and effects on wildfire brush-clearing and cybersecurity

It often seems the federal energy policy is more about posturing and appealing to voters, but isn't the real bulk of impact felt at the state level instead? Could the trends you cite in decreased search term popularity be evidence that people are catching onto that?

David Bridgeman's picture
David Bridgeman on Feb 5, 2020 7:17 pm GMT

Yes, Matt, thanks, that's certainly possible; this is why I noted potential differences between issues at the national versus local levels.

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