2017 predictions for the energy sector

Quentin Scott reflects on what 2016 has meant for the energy sector and what lies ahead in 2017.

2016 has certainly been an interesting year for the global energy agenda. Major political events on both sides of the pond have cast uncertainty on the future of a progressive energy future and pose new questions on whether we can move to a clean energy future as fast as we’d hoped.

However, such uncertainty has also been overshadowed by the rise in support for new energy technologies, the clear winner being energy storage. At Low Carbon, we were proud to have been awarded a total of 4 contracts during 2016 in the National Grid EFR Tender and Capacity Market auction for our battery storage projects at Cleator (10MW) and Glassenbury (40MW). Battery and industrial – grade storage is the future of our energy sector and real momentum and recognition has been created in 2016.

In 2017, energy storage is going to become crucial to the UK energy sector. As more gas and coal plants are decommissioned, the reliance on renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power is increasing. The UK recently signed up to the Paris Agreement, a pledge to keep global temperature increase to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels, and a diverse energy mix will be vital to fulfilling this commitment. Falling costs of battery technology and the new opportunities opening up in this market mean that there is an ever-growing business case for investment in this area. Energy storage has a central role to play in creating a new, evolved UK energy system and will make a significant contribution to decarbonising our energy supply as a whole.

Furthermore, in 2017, the renewable energy industry in particular must find ways to clearly and confidently move forward in the fight against climate change. The private sector, including institutional investors, can lead the charge in driving investment into renewable energy generation and energy storage, whilst also enjoying the robust returns that come with them. The road ahead must be one of collaboration, with investors and policy makers working together to create a positive investment climate, which will in turn help to tackle the global issue of climate change. It is evident that the investment community has the true power to create change, even policy change. We hope to see UK investors leading the way in 2017 beyond.