Report Report: A business guide to the energy revolution

Report Report

Report Report: A business guide to the energy revolution

Energy Revolution
The U.S. energy industry is in the midst of a transition to clean energy, but how will companies prepare for this transition? 

The Report Report brings you highlights from recent reports that are worth a look. Too often, reports from business groups and analysts gather dust on desks, or virtual dust in email inboxes. This edition examines high-profile reports released around ongoings in the energy industry. Share your own reports by emailing us here.

If world leaders are to abide by their promises at the COP21 Paris climate talks to drastically reduce carbon emissions, the companies doing business in their jurisdictions will need to move away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.

In 2015, companies made a huge leap in this transition by buying three times as much solar and wind energy as in 2014. Overall, companies purchased 3,440 megawatts of solar and wind power in 2015 through long-term contracts, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

Yet, companies still have a long way to go in this transition. Solar and wind energy still only consisted of 5.4 percent of total U.S. energy usage in 2015.

With more companies beginning to rely on renewable energy, this Report Report will provide readers with a guide to preparing for a renewable future, as well as a deep look inside developments in the current energy industry.

Sustainable Energy in America Factbook

Source: Business Council for Sustainable Energy and Bloomberg New Energy Finance

What they say:

"The goal of the 2016 Factbook is relatively simple: to record and highlight the important developments that transpired in U.S. energy over the prior 12 months."

The Sustainable Energy in America Factbook highlights increasing energy efficiency, energy productivity and renewable investments in the U.S. as significant developments in 2015. Additionally, it details how corporate procurement of clean energy is on the rise, doubling in 2015 from 2014 to 3.1GW of new renewable capacity.

What we say:

The energy industry is undoubtedly in the midst of a revolution as new technology and regulatory policies are propelling growth in renewable energy. As this transformation has changed the energy landscape, this report provides an incredibly comprehensive overview of the U.S. energy industry with simple bullets and graphs.

Flip to page 37 for a brief section on corporate procurement on renewable energy. This page details how the corporate procurement of clean energy has taken off in 2014 and 2015, and which companies are leading the way. Procurement in solar energy particularly has taken off, quadrupling in megawatts in 2015.

The Future of Electricity in Fast-Growing Economies

Source: World Economic Forum

What they say:

"As the power sector seeks to attract ever increasing amounts of investment, it will have to compete with markets that are more predictable, transparent and friendly to investors — both in other sectors within fast-growth economies and in the power sector within mature markets."

The World Economic Forum focuses on the challenges and opportunities of electricity in developing countries. It shows just how much the developing world will invest in renewable energy as non-OECD countries will invest "$240 billion annually to $495 billion annually between 2015 and 2040 — $13 trillion in total."

It also discusses the role that companies play in supporting this development. It mentions how companies should be a key component in fostering in public-private partnerships with governments, in part, to expand financing opportunities in renewable energy. 

What we say:

Business has an important role to play in improving electricity access in developing countries. The World Economic Forum details what businesses have done previously in countries such as South Africa, India and China, and what businesses need to do in the future to continue to propel growth in electricity markets.

In order to expand sustainable electricity in developing countries, it requires an unseen amount of capital from business and investors. The required capital is not just financial capital, but also human capital. To work on these projects, businesses will need to invest a lot of money in R&D and work with governments to create schools to educate workers.

The state solar jobs census 2015

Source: The Solar Foundation

What they say:

"As of November 2015, the solar industry employs nearly 209,000 solar workers, representing a growth rate of 20.2% since November 2014."

We know that solar energy is booming in the U.S. and thus more people are working in the industry. But what does this workforce actually look like, and what part of the solar industry is this growth coming from?

The Solar Foundation finds that over half of the employment in the solar industry is in the installment sector and 24 percent of the workforce is comprised of women, an increase of 2 percentage points from last year. 

Wages in the solar industry, however, are above the national average as solar installers’ median wage was $21 per hour in 2015, which rose from the previous year's wage of $20 per hour. Additionally, assemblers of solar projects were paid $18 per hour in 2015 and sales representatives and solar designers were paid $28.85 per hour.

What we say:

This is especially poignant for those in the solar industry as it shows some of the challenges in hiring employees and what the industry sees as its growth sectors. Beyond curious workers in the solar industry, this information is valuable because of the on-solar policy which begins on page 53.

The Solar Foundation found that 53.8 percent of respondents said the renewal of the Federal Investment Tax Credit "considerably increased business prospects" and 17.5 percent said it had no impact on business. Along with the Investment Tax Credit, 21.5 percent of companies said they expect the Clean Power Plan to "considerably increase business prospects."

Grid Modernization Index

Source: GridWise Alliance in collaboration with CleanEdge

What they say:

"It is often noted that 'states are the laboratory of democracy,' and this is particularly true in regulating and managing electric utilities to ensure that the public good is served, while enabling individual rights and choices."

This index ranks and evaluates each U.S. state and D.C. on their progress toward grid modernization. California received the highest rank, followed by Illinois and Texas, while North Dakota earned the lowest ranking, preceded by Nebraska and Rhode Island.

It not only lists the rationale for why each state earned its ranking, but also how states can improve their modernization. For instance, California enhanced its grid modernization, in part, because of its Renewable Portfolio Standard mandate of 50 percent.

Additionally, California leads the way in Distributed Energy Resources (DER), and now requires investor owned utilities to file plans detailing how they intend to integrate DER’s into their existing networks.

What we say:

Any company looking to consume energy from renewables or become more energy efficient should read this report. The Grid Modernization Index offers readers the ability to learn everything they need to know about developments in grid modernization across the U.S.

Specifically, this could be valuable for companies preparing for how they will consume energy in the near future. Also, for sustainable-minded companies looking to expand geographically, this could offer a good insight into what the energy grid looks like in other states.