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The Future of Energy: 10 Predictions From Industry Insiders

When it comes to hot topics, it’s hard to find anything as talked about and heavily debated as the energy industry. With all these debates and discussions come a lot of questions. One of the reoccurring questions we ask ourselves here are the Future of Everything is, well, you guessed it: what’s the future going to look like? 

While there are lots of bold predictions for how the industry will change in the next 20 or 30 years, we decided to dig in and find out what the industry could look like at the end of this year, 2017.

To do this, we connected directly with some of the top thought leaders in the energy industry to get a better understanding of just what we can expect to happen in 2017. In the end, we spoke with over 100 different energy industry experts and carefully read each answer before selecting the ten included below.

So, what will happen in the energy industry in 2017?

Here’s what 10 experts have to say……

Adrian Tuck, Tendril, inc.

“Energy solutions from utilities are evolving from a one-size-fits-all model to a more personalized approach that better fits the needs and wants of their customers. While some customers seek out the greenest sources of energy, others are seeking the cheapest, and utilities need to cater to all. Utilities will start allowing customers to mix and match their energy sources to meet their needs, which could mean drawing from community solar, natural gas, rooftop solar, etc. The smart utility will be able to create a hybrid supply model for different customers. This will by the year utilities finally catch up to other industries by offering mobile apps, making it easier for customers to engage and dictate their needs. This new advent in the personalization of energy is made possible by the use of data and analytics that can understand customer preferences and cater to them.This won’t be the only way utilities start customizing solutions for their customers, we’re also going to utilities widely test different pricing strategies to find the best model.”

Joe Nichols, COO of Meridium (GE Digital)

“Asset strategies have long existed at energy companies as components of engineering design, maintenance and inspection plans, and condition monitoring, but there has been a recent shift around integration of risk principles and easier access to asset data. Energy companies will start to focus on Asset Performance Management (APM) programs to consolidate reliability data into one centralized, intelligent system for deeper analysis that drives smarter decisions. In the past, much of this data has been generated by maintenance and work order histories, and plants were completely dependent on various personnel entering data, causing inaccuracies and gaps in information. Now, thanks to the Industrial Internet, machines are getting smarter and are able to provide detailed data about their health and performance. In 2017 we’ll see APM technology play a greater role in compiling vast disparate equipment and process data in a way that can supply relevant and timely information.”

Forrest Small, Vice President of Grid Optimization Strategy, BRIDGE Energy Group

“The pressure for utilities to transform is expected to increase further in 2017. For most, it will be a year of evolution as utilities pursue reliability, security, clean energy, and a renewed focus on customers while balancing the complex industry challenges of optimization of business as usual with the transformation to a modern grid with the realities of regulation.

The deployment of advanced technology at the grid edge will accelerate as the costs of energy storage, microgrids and grid-scale solar continue to decline. Clarifying workable business models for utilities and third parties will be needed to reduce the risk and encourage experimentation.

A continued push for the evolution of utility regulation to encourage measurable performance by utilities, and implementing pricing that better reflects the value that distributed energy resources and innovative services provide for consumers and producers is key. Failing to get this right will slow innovation and increase costs for customers in the long term.”

Vikram Aggarwal, CEO and founder of EnergySage

“For nearly a decade, U.S. federal energy policy was in sync with the evolving market realities of the energy sector. This will no longer be true in 2017. There will be a divergence between federal policy and reality, with policymakers going in one direction and the market headed in the other.

Though the Trump administration will work towards implementing pro-fossil fuel policies, American consumers and energy companies (e.g. utilities and power producers) will continue their transition towards renewables in 2017. This shift will be driven by the increasingly low costs of renewables, and the belief that sustainable resources such as solar and wind are the future of the energy industry, and worth investing in today. Powering the economy of the 21st century will primarily require renewable energy, and federal policies that attempt to resuscitate the fossil fuel technologies of the past will only delay the inevitable.”

Tom Heiser, CEO of ClickSoftware

“Energy companies are facing a serious challenge to their traditional business models in 2017. Like any heavily-regulated industry, their financial models are built around capital expenditures on assets and technology, which they’re allowed to charge back to customers. But if they want to buy new software, for example, no one is building that outside of the cloud anymore. Saas subscriptions are treated recurring operational expenses—forcing the energy company to either absorb the full cost stick with archaic, inefficient solutions. If they wait for regulations to change, it could be years of diminished profitability and productivity. These companies are now wrestling with how to adapt their financials in order to meet their obligations to consumers—not to mention escalating expectations—and they have no choice but to embrace the cloud. If they don’t, they’re stuck relying on outdated technology. That’s not an acceptable risk.”

Philip Racusin, CEO at EnergyFunders

“Oil markets have been experiencing a recession, some say a depression.  What people don’t realize is that oil wells can’t simply be turned off and on when convenient due to mechanical and regulatory realities.  Because so many wells have been shut-in or plugged/abandoned due to supply concerns, which permanently decreases production from these wells. Demand is starting to pick back up, especially as drawdowns of inventories increase due to lower production.  The race in the next 12 to 18 months will be bringing enough wells back online and drilling new ones as necessary to keep up with demand.”

Albert Goldson, Executive Director of Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC

“Because president-elect Donald Trump is unlike any other president-elect America has ever encountered, there will be enormous uncertainty in the energy sector throughout 2017.

The major US energy companies are the masters at identifying risk so they can adapt rather easily to tumultuous conditions made easier because of deep financial pockets.

Risks and opportunities:

  1. The outcome of whether agreement with Iran will be upheld or scuttled under Trump, opportunities to develop new energy fields and extend the production of old energy fields with their technical expertise.
  2. If Sanctions are extended with Russia it would deny the
  3. oil majors opportunities to develop Russia’s green fields.
  4. Because of the increasing bankruptcies and financials difficulties, even with $50-$60/bbl.oil prices, the
  5. shale industry
  6. industry shakeout will result in only the larger and well-capitalized producers to survive and thrive”

GARY VEGH, Senior Environmental Toxicologist and OWNER at ERA Environmental Management Solutions


“We’ve seen such an uptick regarding Corporate Social Responsibility in 2016, and this will continue in 2017! Frankly speaking, there’s an increase in awareness partly because companies are using it for PR as well as for profit. The result? Consumers are driving manufacturers to be even more green. They even expect a green supply chain. Think about people buying a car in today’s market. Ultimately, they care about the end product. However, many consumers are asking about specific parts of the car. ‘How many miles can I get per gallon?’ ‘What were the waste emissions for the creation of the car?’ They also want the biggest bang for their buck. Consumers want the best value. This encourages the vast majority of our clients (which are Fortune 500 companies) to improve their supply chain, reduce waste and increase profit.”


About the author

Nick Hastreiter

I write about the future of business. I approach this by interviewing founders, CEO's, and other game changers to share their vision for the future of their industry.


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