US Deputy Secretary of Energy, 1999-2001

My view is that the changes we are going to see in the next decade will be greater than the changes we’ve seen in the last 50 years combined in the energy sector. I think they will bed riven by three developments and events. One is technologies, second is markets and third is geopolitics.

In the technologies area, I think we are going to see changes that will challenge the business models that we have today in the energy area, it will open up new opportunities as well. I think in renewable energy we can see that prices continue to decline. For example, the prices for solar have declined 75% since 2000 and our shipments have gone up 200 times, globally. I think it is going to continue in the other areas. Wind and solar already have gone to the point where their class is actually lower than coal and nuclear in many parts of the world. Batteries and the energy storage at small scale and at large scale - I think that’s the next technology that will follow that path to lower classes and more widespread application. That is going to be a function of new materials, new chemistry, new manufacturing techniques.

The electricity grid is also going to change. It’s going to have special power controllers and sensors throughout the whole grid. This will allow a dynamic management of energy flows of the grid. It will allow micro grids to be developed in management thoughout the system. The customer’s role with these changes is going to be dramatically different. The relationship between utilities and customers will change from what it has been historically and will challenge the business model of utilities.

There will also be technology changes in other areas that will affect the energy sector as well. 3D printing is the one of the things which will bring a dramatic change in manufacturing technology. The ability to make small parts, but also large-scale things such as whole panels for concept cars. It can be produced anywhere. Well, change the global supply chains that we are used to and there will be imposed new power modes and plants locally and at small businesses. The electric vehicle area is also one that will change a lot. TESLA introduced the model S only 4 years ago. In 4 years we have seen now every major car company in the world either introduce electric vehicles or announce plans to produce their electric vehicles.