Engie Executive Sees The End Of Coal, Gas and Nuclear Power Plants

Who: Thierry Lepercq, EVP of Research, Development and Innovation at Engie. Member of the executive committee. Engie is a global energy company with $78billion in revenues and 150,000 employees.

What: A discussion about the future of energy regarding the use of traditional power plants, transition to renewables and investing in innovative companies around the world.

Impact to You: Engie has sold its US portfolio of coal and gas power plants. It closed a 45 year old coal plant in Australia and sees mobility as a massive impact to the energy system. If they view the future to be without central power fueled by fossils, what does that mean to your business and your customers? Thierry may be paid to be a futurist but getting Engie to turn its business strategy into this direction matters to you.

Sometimes while in deep conversation with a leading energy executives, they say something extraordinary in such a casual way that unless you are paying attention, you might miss it.

I had that experience the other day when SolarWakeup had an exclusive conversation with Thierry Lepercq of Engie’s Executive Committee and the company’s EVP of Research, Development and Innovation, in which he made a bold prediction: Rotating-machinery electricity production—meaning all fossil-fuel and nuclear plants—are going away.

“That’s a given,” he said matter-of-factly, as if this as if it were common knowledge. I can attest, however, that I had never heard anyone say it out loud before—especially from someone leading the future for an energy company with 150,000 employees and over $75billion in 2016 revenues. After all, the Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are on a fast-tracked course to bail out failing and dissipative nuclear and coal plants at an enormous cost to taxpayers.

But Lepercq remained steadfast in his contention, even pointing to Engie’s decision in February to sell its U.S. assets and its decision to close its 1.6 GW-capacity Hazelwood Power Station in Australia, a brown-coal plant that had operated continuously for more than 45 years.

Lepercq added that Engie is not the only company that recognizes this reality. One of its partners, the EDF Group (a French company that operates in the United States with its EDF Renewable Energy subsidiary), declared on Monday that it would add 30 GW of solar capacity in France by 2035.

“I’ve had this conversation with their research-and-development head, and we’ve established a joint working group with them to determine how you make a grid with 60% renewables work,” Lepercq said. “And we are in the process of figuring it out.”

The more I thought about what Lepercq was saying, the more I thought he might well be right. Even though the most visible manifestations of this idea are taking place in Europe and the current U.S. administration is doing its level best to scuttle plans like them in this country, there are signs the utilities are already seeing the writing on the wall.

After all, despite President Trump’s most energetic efforts, a survey of U.S. utilities last year revealed that coal plants representing 15,6 GW of capacity will come offline in the next 12 years, no matter what regulatory dismantling takes place.

And the pace of coal-plant retirements is staggering. The survey also reported that enough coal-fired plants to generate 20.5 TWh of energy production annually are coming off the books this year.

Will the United States ever completely retire rotating-machinery electricity plants? That’s hard to imagine in the current political climate, but with visionaries like Lepercq and the team at Engie leading the charge around the world—essentially showing us the way forward.

Mike DellaGala: Getting to NTP – Using Development Capital To Boost Projects To Completion

Mike DellaGala has been in solar for a long time and we’ve known each other about that long. I wanted to have Mike on the podcast to talk about the change in his business model. For many years, Mike was a sponsor in the market, his goal was to buy projects with as little risk as possible at the highest returns he could find.

Today, he has shifted DGEP Management to get into projects as early as possible and provide the capital needed to get to NTP. With developers using their networks and capabilities to dream up a project, the large interconnection fees are sometimes hard to find and this void is his target.

We talk about the 201 petition, market inefficiencies and policies that work for solar.

Make sure to check out SolarWakeup Live! in Boston on 10/31 and D.C. on 12/6. Tickets available but selling fast.

If you enjoyed this episode as much as I did, make sure to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform including iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher radio. Please subscribe and share with your friends how much EnergyWakeup is helping you!

Amory Lovins – Founder of Rocky Mountain Institute and Electricity Grid Visionary

Now that the DOE grid has been released, we speak with the visionary Amory Lovins of RMI. Amory is the founder of RMI which recently celebrated its 35th anniversary.

I asked Amory about his thoughts on the study and some more questions.

Can we blame LED lightbulbs for stagnating demand or is it something else?
What is the most dangerous conclusion in the study?
Why do you think Connecticut and Texas agree that energy markets should be deregulated?
Will there ever be another coal or nuclear plant built in the US?
If you were to write this grid study, what would be the biggest difference in the report?

This is one of the biggest names to join EnergyWakeup to date and we are thankful to have Amory’s leadership in the clean energy space.

If you enjoyed this episode as much as I did, make sure to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform including iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher radio. Please subscribe and share with your friends how much EnergyWakeup is helping you!

The Clinton And Trump Supporters Venn Diagram of Agreement

 When it comes to an overlap of issues that both Clinton and Trump supporters agree on, the issues are limited. Issues on energy are no different and show a large divergence on all fossil fuel issues but there is some agreement. In a poll conducted from August 16th to September 12th by Pew Research, 1,324 registered voters were asked about their support regarding coal, fracking, nuclear, wind and solar.

Mr. Trump has been very supportive of coal, in particular clean coal, that it comes up during debates and is a standard part of his stump speech. The effort goes to reach out to voters that support coal and his polling is supported by Pew. In this poll, supporters were the most polarized. 69% of Trump supporters are in favor of more coal while 22% of Clinton fans.

Contrary to what utilities have been doing across the US, supporters start to align on their favorability when it comes to fracking and nuclear. Natural gas and nuclear power are the primary increases in ratebase spending by utilities. The support for fracking and nuclear energy barely surpass the 50% levels.

Social experiments can be a nice way to prove that polling works. A solar company attended a Trump rally with a simple message, build a wall…of solar panels on your roof. There was little disagreement from Trump supporters on having more solar. Numbers back up the video with 91% of Clinton supporters and 84% of Trump supporters favoring expansion of solar.

As the electorate gets together on an issue, the movement ends up in the political arena. National Geographic covered the influence that the utilities yield in State Capitols and remain powerful but these kinds of polls can only go to further the political will of legislators to go where the voters already are. Much like the support for coal is so strong, the support for solar may begin to transcend party lines.