7 Trends to Watch in the Energy Industry in 2020

Here are 7 interesting trends in the energy sector you might want to keep an eye on in 2020.
Christopher McFadden

What energy trends should you keep an eye on in 2020? These 7 promise to be some of the most exciting.


Which country uses the most renewable energy?

Many countries around the world are pushing forward with adopting renewable energy technology. But which ones are 'all in'?

According to sites like clickenergy.com.au, the top 12 "most renewable" countries include: 

  • Iceland
  • Sweden 
  • Costa Rica 
  • Nicaragua 
  • The United Kingdom 
  • Germany
  • Uruguay
  • Denmark
  • China
  • Morocco
  • The USA
  • Kenya

How much renewable energy did the US use in 2019?

energy sector trends 2020 grid
Source: LoveSilhouette/iStock

The United States is one nation that is investing heavily in renewable energy, and 2019 was no exception. With energy generation and distribution a matter of national security, any means of helping maintain energy independence should be welcomed.

According to the Energy Information Administration, 2019 saw good growth in renewable adoption.

"EIA forecasts that utility-scale renewable fuels, including wind, solar, and hydropower, will collectively produce 18% of U.S. electricity in 2019 and 19% in 2020." - eia.gov.

Which energy trends should you watch in 2020?

So, without further ado, here are 7 energy sector trends to watch in 2020.

1. Energy storage and better batteries - The 'Achilles Heel'

The main 'Achilles Heel' of the most popular sources of renewable energy is their lack of reliability. Solar PV isn't very useful at night and wind power needs the wind to blow.

For this reason, a means of "making hay when the sun shines" is vital to ensure the future of renewables in the energy mix. Much work has already been done to develop better and longer-lasting batteries, as well as other means of storing any energy generated from renewable sources.

2020 should be no exception, with energy industry leaders pushing to develop and promote better energy management and storage. This will also require greater grid flexibility to allow energy firms to balance supply and demand in a highly variable market.

Consumers are becoming ever-more savvy with how they chose energy suppliers, meaning "the invisible hand" of the market should continue to be the main driver for change. Commercial consumers are also pushing hard to source their energy from more diverse and renewable sources.

An integral part of good energy management is viable and reliable storage systems and, by extension, batteries. 2020 should be an exciting year for new developments in this area, with companies like Tesla, Eos, Sonnen, and  Vivint Solar being some to keep an eye on.

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2. Artificial intelligence is making waves

Artificial intelligence is making waves in many industries around the world. The energy industry is no exception. 

AI is being used to help energy companies and consumers collect and sift through data to help identify and track trends in energy generation and consumption. Smart meters and smart energy management systems are also benefitting from integrating AI. 

Energy and mining companies are also beginning to adopt AI to help them speed up production and reduce waste. The investment should ultimately pay dividends and make services more cost-effective. 

It can also help with making better energy storage decisions, as well as increasing energy efficiency.

3. Blockchain networks should revolutionize the industry

Blockchain technology is another exciting development in the energy industry. These peer-to-peer networks are helping customers to effectively trade energy with ease. 

This can be used by energy companies themselves, or even by private individuals. Such technology, aided by the IoT, can help improve the performance of smart, energy-saving devices and of building management systems (BMS).

Utility providers can also take advantage of blockchain's distributed ledger technology by better tracking the chain of custody for grid materials.

"This can all be done in real-time settings. Alongside this is the transparency that the blockchain network provides, which may prove to be beneficial to both businesses and their customers. This may subsequently help to improve relations between the two." - Linch Pin SEO.

As technology improves over time, it could also help promote energy micro-generation by  individuals. Any excess energy generated could  potentially be privately traded over Blockchain.

4. Grid parity is essential

Grid parity occurs when an alternative energy source can generate power at a levelized cost of electricity that is less than or equal to the price of power from the electricity gridWith some renewable energy sources, like solar, becoming

more popular, many utility companies are looking to attain grid parity ASAP.  This trend will be just as important in 2020 as in previous years.

"This is tied directly to technological advances, as the grid will be more efficiently rolled out across states with a minimum of resources. Alongside this will be a net saving in revenues over the long-term, despite the need for short-term investments.

Much of this should be balanced out by the fact that consumers are increasingly looking for sustainable electricity. Currently, it seems as though supply simply needs to catch up with the overall market. This means that certain companies will be able to capitalize on this by entering quickly and efficiently." - Linch Pin SEO.

5. Cybersecurity of the grid

One downside of the increasing digitization of the energy grid is its vulnerability to cyber-attacks. A concerted and sophisticated attack could, theoretically, knock out the entire energy grid of a nation.

In fact, wargames are conducted from time to time to test just this scenario. For this reason, making something of such vital strategic importance "watertight" is of vital importance.

AI and blockchain might just be the "magic bullet" to help overcome this perennial danger.

6. Distributed Energy Resource (DER)

According to surveys conducted by Deloitte, consumers are putting pressure on energy suppliers for them to have more control over their energy. 

"Surveys tell us, electricity customers, across residential, commercial, and industrial segments increasingly seek to save money, use cleaner energy sources, ensure resiliency, and gain more control over their energy use. And utilities, especially those facing rising state renewable portfolio standards (RPS) and corporate carbon reduction goals, seek more flexible resources to help balance the growing supply of variable resources such as wind and solar. They also seek to shave peak demand, avoid costs of building new generation and transmission, and further engage customers." - Deloitte

DERs are small-scale power generation or storage technologies that typically range from 1 to 10,000 kW. Examples include community-scale renewable tech, and combined heat and power units (CHP). 

They are, in effect, a means of decentralizing energy production (and storage where possible). 

Distributed Energy Resource (DER) strategies and technologies should see some interesting developments in 2020. 

7. Politics and energy policy

"You might not care about politics, but it certainly cares about you," as the old saying goes. It infiltrates many aspects of our lives and the energy sector is no exception. 

Many governments around the world are increasingly pushing for decarbonization by a specific date. These kinds of policies may well drive the development of many of the trends highlighted above.

However, this is something of a double-edged sword, and 2020 could alter the landscape completely. With governments conflating political position with favoring either renewable sources or more traditional ones, the balance of power in individual nations could determine their future energy policies.  

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