According to sites like clickenergy.com.au, these 7 promise to be some of the most exciting.
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 long-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 grid flexibility to allow energy firms to balance supply and demand in this highly fickle market.
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Consumers are becoming ever more savvy with how they pick 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 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 being one to keep an eye on.
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, energy management systems and alike can benefit greatly 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 them dividends and make their 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 done with energy companies themselves or between private individuals or commercial operators. Such technology, aided by the IoT, can help turbo-charge the performance of things like energy-saving devices and 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 should also help promote micro-generation amongst the populace. Any excess generated and not stored can then be privately traded over Blockchain.
4. Grid Parity is essential
With some renewable energy sources like solar becoming ever 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 ever-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, combined heat, and power units (CHP) and the like.
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 certain arbitrary years. These kinds of policies will 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 favoring renewable sources or more traditional ones, the balance of power in a certain nation will determine its future energy policies.