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 Shining a Light on the Energy Industry

Looking back at 2017, it was a year marked by multiple well-entrenched trends, including the changing fuel mix, falling power prices, rising renewable demand, the proliferation of distributed energy resources, and deepening commitment to resilience and cybersecurity.
Change has come unevenly across the U.S., with the pace often determined by regional differences in market and regulatory structures, resource availability, customer preferences and the retail price of electricity.
“As we stand several years into an electric power industry transformation...the grid is ‘smarter,’ electricity sources are cleaner and customers have more choices than ever before. But the change is likely just getting started,” says Scott Smith, U.S. power and utilities leader, Deloitte LLP in the company’s 2018 Power and Utilities Industry Outlook.
As the industry transformation continues to unfold, current trends will evolve and others will likely emerge. Uncertainty will be a constant. But, fortunately, some bright spots on the horizon can help illuminate the path for electric power companies. Two of the most promising trends are the projected demand lift from transport electrification and the potential benefits of digitalization.
“We expect digitalization to increasingly enter the spotlight, as electric power companies map out new ways to deploy rapidly advancing technologies to address challenges and harness opportunities,” says Smith.
Regarding renewables, Deloitte indicates that recent years have seen accelerating market presence for renewable and distributed energy, driven by technological progress, declining costs, and evolving societal and consumer preferences.
“As renewable energy adds scale, the favorable underlying forces look set to remain strong, although we may see near-term headwinds in a more uncertain regulatory environment,” notes the company.
Deloitte is also seeing changing times in its 2018 Oil and Gas Industry Outlook.
When the crude oil export ban was lifted in January 2016, many broadly viewed it as good for the industry and free trade, but were not quite sure about its impact. 2017 was the year the U.S. confirmed its growing status as an energy exporter.
“Some may see our newfound energy strength as allowing us to go further down an isolationist path as we seek the dream of energy independence. Another view might be that our strength as an energy supplier simply gives us more leverage in the global, free trade economy that the U.S. has historically supported,” observes Deloitte.
“Although still a net importer of crude, our growing place as an energy exporter and low-cost supplier could fundamentally change our position in the global energy landscape,” adds John England, U.S. energy and resources leader, and U.S. and Americas oil and gas leader, Deloitte LLP.
Meanwhile the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects in its March 2018 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) that U.S. crude oil production will average 10.7 million barrels/day in 2018, which would mark the highest annual average U.S. crude oil production level, surpassing the previous record of 9.6 million b/d set in 1970. EIA forecasts 2019 crude oil production will average 11.3 million b/d.
EIA further predicts total U.S. energy production increases by about 31 percent from 2017 through 2050 in its Annual Energy Outlook 2018 (AEO2018), which includes projections to 2050.
AEO2018 provides long-term energy projections for what may happen for the U.S. These modeled projections are developed using the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS), an integrated model that captures interactions of economic changes and energy supply, demand and price.
AEO is published pursuant to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Organization Act of 1977, which requires the EIA administrator to prepare annual reports on trends and projections for energy use and supply.
Sources: Deloitte’s 2018 Power and Utilities Industry Outlook and 2018 Oil and Gas Industry Outlook, and U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) March 2018 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) and Annual Energy Outlook 2018 (AEO2018)
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