Expect Rapid Change in the Energy Industry

The next 10 years could bring more change to the energy industry than the last 100, says Chazen Senior Scholar and Donald C. Waite III Professor of Social Enterprise Geoffrey Heal. Professor Heal spoke at the Chazen Institute’s India Business Initiative conference in Mumbai on January 15, 2018.
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We’re going to see more change in the next 10 years in the energy industry than we’ve seen in the last 100 years.

That’s a very strong statement, but actually if you think about it, there hasn’t been a lot of change in the energy industry in the last 100 years. One hundred years ago we were digging up oil and coal and gas and burning them. And that’s what we’re still doing in 2000.

The only real change in the energy industry over that period has been the addition of nuclear. Back in the 1950s and 60s we started digging up uranium and burning that as another way of generating power. But basically the energy industry hasn’t changed in a big-picture sense over the last 150 years.

That is now changing. And the energies will look very, very different 10 or 15 years from now from the way it looks today and the way it has looked for the last 150 years. There are three reasons for this; I want to talk about all three of them. One is the development of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, in the US. Of the three reasons we’re going to talk about that’s probably the one that is least relevant to India, but I want to mention it for completeness.

Ok, so hydraulic fracturing in the US, the rapid drop in prices and the surging competitiveness of wind and solar power, dramatic changes in the competitiveness of wind and solar power, and the plunging costs of energy storage.

Now you’re probably familiar with the first two of these, you probably haven’t heard about the third. The cost of energy storage and the way that the cost of energy storage is dropping. This is actually a very important part of the picture when it comes to the rollout of renewable energy.

About the researcher

Geoffrey Heal

Geoffrey Heal, Donald C. Waite III Professor of Social Enterprise at Columbia Business School, is noted for contributions to economic theory and resource and...

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