It happened in 2007. Ten years ago the trajectory for electrical use in America peaked and started down a different course, declining for reasons we don’t fully understand yet. No, this wasn’t a one-time drop but a clear shift, moving in a new downward direction that continues to this day. While the seismic forces change power generation are occurring, there should have been celebrations and parades, even dancing in the streets, but no one noticed.
In much the same way animals, not humans, are able to pick up on weak signals for an impending earthquake, our ability to sense an industry’s peak still mystifies us. To make matters even more complicated, it may not be the peak.
Our emerging electric car and trucking industries coupled with plummeting battery prices, solar roofs, IoT devices, artificial intelligence, home battery packs, and energy efficient everything are just a few of the interrelated issues that will turn virtually every prediction about our future electrical needs into a low probability forecast before its even mentioned.
Seismic Forces Change Power Generation are Happening Now
The future of electricity can best be broken into four fundamental categories – power generation, power distribution, electric storage, and changes in demand.
These fundamentals are causing seismic forces change power generation.
After looking at the charts above of some of today’s most important trends, it was easy to uncover a few emerging trends that analysts haven’t been considering.
While some of these may only represent a miniscule probability over the next few years, the interplay between emerging technology and social acceptance, coupled with an exponential growth curve or two inserted into the mix, will make the energy industry a truly dicey market to predict over the next 2-3 decades.
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The power industry has already entered a state of disruption, but is ripe for much more. Today’s politics will be a distant memory 2-3 decades from now. At the same time, wind and solar have proven to be the lowest cost form of electric power generation across a majority of the U.S., even without subsidies. Renewables are already at grid parity and will continue to drop in price.
Electric power will endure to be a battleground industry for decades to come. Our shifting base of technology, startups, lifestyles, culture, and politics will continue to make this a highly unpredictable landscape for the foreseeable future.