Disruptive technology spurs Sustainable Energy5 minute read
For many millennials, concern for the planet, climate and sustainability has never been a radical idea, but one rooted in the mainstream. In 1990, millennials were even given a sustainability superhero, Captain Planet and the Planeteers, who defended the Earth from environmental disasters with the rallying cry, “The power is yours!” Some of the same values embodied in that popular TV cartoon series rang true in a recent report from the Brookings Institute on millennials. It found they collectively applaud the values of good citizenship, and some 89% say they would buy from those companies that supported solutions to specific social issues.
Millennials aren’t just patronizing these companies by purchasing their goods. Through impact investing, which focuses on a mission that includes generating a beneficial social and/or environment impact, millennials are working on changing the world through business. And their decisions go way beyond personal investments and consumer goods to decisions at the office, where their views influence everything from corporate investing to tech choices.
Whether or not it is a millennial in the senior technology decision making seat, it is clear corporate America is being influenced by the views of this massive cohort of about 75 million people in the U.S. alone. And in recent research on disruptive technology we hear the voice and views of millennials loud and clear.
In the third study from the new Moving Forward research series, Panasonic Corporation of North America assesses how senior technology decision makers view Sustainable Energy, the technologies driving it forward, and the impact it will have on industries such as energy & utilities and building & construction. Panasonic is deeply engaged in these technologies.
That’s important because when you’re creating entirely new experiences, chances are you’ll need to combine many of these technologies into an integrated solution. Findings from this research provide insight into the investments other organizations are making and the challenges they face.
STUDY: HOW LONG BEFORE BATTERY STORAGE
OF RENEWABLE ENERGY GOES MAINSTREAM?
One of the leading disruptive technologies
Across all industries, moving to renewable energy is a priority among those we surveyed. In fact, out of 10 leading disruptive technologies making an outsize impact on the world today, renewable energy is one of the most highly adopted – along with mobile devices, apps & commerce, the cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Almost half of the companies in our study have already invested in renewable energy technologies, and almost three in five intend to do so in the near future.
Producers bracing for greater demand
Energy and utility companies, which made up a subset of the companies surveyed, expect that meeting future renewable demand will be a challenge as growing demand outpaces supply. In fact, fewer than one in three believe they’ll definitely be able to increase renewable energy production to meet consumer needs.
The number one challenge that they see? Affordable materials. Affordability and other issues will hinder growth of green energy in the short term, according to respondents, who predict that it will account for less than half the total energy produced in the next five years.
Energy storage: a transformative technology
One technology that’s widely seen as an important contributor to Sustainable Energy adoption is energy storage. It’s playing a stronger role in Sustainable Energy growth than even government subsidies. Among senior technology decision makers responsible for Sustainable Energy solutions, nearly three in five see affordable energy storage as “transformative.”
Why? Today, solar and wind energy are time-sensitive assets. Most energy produced is either immediately consumed on-site or shared into the grid. By capturing excess energy at peak times, affordable storage can make energy available any time, regardless of when it was generated. Decision makers recognize the potential of this technology and see “cost savings” as the best reason to invest in it.
Net-zero and the building & construction industry
Some 40% of energy in the U.S. is consumed by residential and commercial buildings, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and the majority of that is from carbon sources. Going green is an increasing priority in building & construction.
Historically, boosting green energy in this area has involved both a carrot (lower electricity costs and tax incentives) – and a stick (government regulation such as net-zero energy codes). Net-zero requires that buildings produce as much (renewable) energy on-site as they consume. California, for instance, has mandated that all residential buildings be net-zero by 2020 – and all commercial buildings by 2030.
While seven in 10 decision makers are interested in technologies that address net-zero, fewer than one in five believe these technologies will be available in the next five years.
Lack of expertise is holding industries back
For building & construction and energy & utilities – two industries that contribute heavily to building out Sustainable Energy capacity – lack of skilled employees is the #1 challenge to adopting disruptive technologies. No surprise then that more than three in five energy decision makers cite the need for a partner to help integrate technologies as a factor that could drive multi-year growth.
CHALLENGES TO ADOPTING SUSTAINABLE ENERGY PRODUCTION AND STORAGE
Partnering to overcome obstacles
For our part, Panasonic stands ready with Sustainable Energy solutions to help companies move forward. For starters, we’re focused on solving the affordable energy storage challenge. With our billion-dollar investments in the Gigafactory, for example, we’re doubling worldwide production of lithium-ion batteries in a single facility. Scale as much as anything drives savings, and we intend to continue to invest to achieve scale.
As one of the few industry leaders with expertise across the spectrum of disruptive technologies, we’re here to work the full breadth of the sustainable energy market to partner with those that have new ideas or challenges to help them take full advantage of all the benefits.
What’s next in our Moving Forward series?
In the coming months, we’ll continue to share the results from some new research studies. In the meantime, see our overview for an interactive data visualization of technology adoption by industry, and find out which tech is fueling the Integrated Supply Chain revolution.
For more on energy, explore our capabilities and perspectives on Sustainable Energy solutions.
About the research
This research was commissioned by Panasonic Corporation of North America and fielded in the U.S. and Canada. The survey included 200 CTOs and other senior technology decision makers in organizations with at least 200 employees.