Wind, Solar Power Could Overpower Political Winds: Deloitte Study

NEW YORK, June 14, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Demand for renewable energy by consumers and businesses - along with a long-term commitment to cleaner portfolios from utilities - seems to be fundamentally shifting energy attitudes and decisions, independent of federal stances, according to Deloitte's annual "Resources 2017 Study - Energy Management: Sustainability & Progress."

Technology advancements and cost declines have made renewables competitive with conventional energy, giving consumers and businesses more clean energy options and pushing utilities to offer smarter, high-tech offerings.

"The demand for clean energy has passed the point of no return. It is not only political anymore. It is an economic issue," said Marlene Motyka, U.S. and global renewable energy leader and principal, Deloitte Transactions and Business Analytics LLP. "Green energy no longer solely means environmental concerns, 'green energy' also means the dollars that can be saved by investing in wind, solar and other clean energy sources."

Key findings include:

    --  Sixty-three percent of residential consumers were very concerned about
        climate change and their personal carbon footprints. In fact, using
        clean energy sources was the most important energy issue among
        consumers, with 37 percent citing "increasing the use of solar power"
        (up 4 percent from 2016) as the top issue and 25 percent placing a
        priority on use of wind power (up 4 percent from 2016).
    --  Nearly 6 in 10 consumers cited the option to use renewable sources as a
        motivation to switch providers. Further, they stated that they are
        willing to pay a 4-8 percent surcharge on their electric bills for
        renewables, although the need for such surcharges has been declining.
    --  Millennials have been driving much of the support for renewables. Nearly
        two-thirds (64 percent) of millennials said they were extremely or very
        interested in installing solar panels, up 9 percent over last year, and
        more than half (53 percent) were extremely or very interested in
        purchasing a share in a community, or "shared," solar installation.

Energy storage: Makes renewables even more attractive
According to the study, energy storage could be the biggest potential game changer for renewable energy growth from consumers and businesses, as technology advances and costs decline.

    --  About half (48 percent) of business respondents responded that they are
        working to procure more electricity from renewables. Of the 39 percent
        who are not working to procure more renewable electricity, 58 percent
        said combining renewable energy sources with battery storage could
        motivate them to do more.
    --  Forty-five percent of residential consumers said they would be more
        interested in installing solar panels if they could combine them with a
        home battery storage unit.

"Utilities are not only contending with demands to secure power from cleaner sources, but also the growing, significant gap in values, preferences and motivations between millennials and older age groups. This gap seems especially substantial when it comes to use of technology and social media," said Scott Smith, vice chairman and U.S. power and utilities leader, Deloitte LLP. "As customer expectations change and many become more active energy consumers, utilities likely need to be more flexible in tailoring service offerings to meet new demands."

The private sector speaks out
Deloitte also reached out to more than 700 companies nationwide to conduct interviews with the energy decision-makers within the enterprise. These interviews showed changing business needs are driving a shift in energy priorities in the private sector.

    --  Eighty percent of businesses viewed reducing electricity costs as
        essential to maintaining an image that keeps them competitive. Business
        motivations for energy management have gone well beyond cost cutting,
        with nearly half (45 percent) reporting it as a key part of corporate
        strategy and 9 in 10 investing about 21 percent of their total capital
        budgets in related programs.
    --  More than 8 in 10 agreed that their company's view of energy procurement
        is shifting from merely a cost to an opportunity for reducing risk,
        improving resilience and creating new value. Sixty-one percent said
        their customers are demanding their companies procure a certain
        percentage of their electricity demand from renewable resources.

Businesses seek to generate their own power

    --  Six in 10 businesses now have some form of on-site electricity
        generation, up from 35 percent five years ago. And 33 percent plan to
        increase the amount of electricity they self-generate.
    --  Businesses that reported an increase in electric outages are taking
        matters into their own hands, with 26 percent reporting they intend to
        develop self-generation capabilities, while another 35 percent indicated
        they have considered implementing or participating in a microgrid.

"This is an exciting time as businesses of all sizes seem to be building momentum in energy management based on their consistent successes year over year," concluded Motyka. "As companies seek to up their game to reduce energy consumption and increase use of renewable energy, it should be good news for individual businesses, their shareholders and employees, as well as their communities at large."

The seventh annual "Resources 2017 Study" captured many other compelling residential consumer and business perspectives about energy management attitudes, actions and motivations and the full report can be found here.

Connect with us on Twitter at: @Deloitte4Energy, @MarleneMMotyka and @ScottGibbsSmith.

About Deloitte
Deloitte provides industry-leading audit, consulting, tax and advisory services to many of the world's most admired brands, including 80 percent of the Fortune 500 and more than 6,000 private and middle market companies. Our people work across more than 20 industry sectors to deliver measurable and lasting results that help reinforce public trust in our capital markets, inspire clients to make their most challenging business decisions with confidence, and help lead the way toward a stronger economy and a healthy society.

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SOURCE Deloitte