It’s a hotly debated subject, to be sure, but most would agree that a move toward alternative forms of power, net-zero emissions and other environmental goals is quickly accelerating. The COVID-19 pandemic bears some of the blame, as it temporarily obliterated the world’s demand for oil and gas. That was followed in January by a flurry of presidential executive orders intending to force industry in a greener direction.
“Things were already changing, but now they’re really changing,” says David Dismukes, executive director of LSU’s Center for Energy Studies. “Companies are transforming their entire business model—pipelines, oil and gas, electric power, you name it.”
However, Louisiana industry leaders fear that any federal action that forces the issue, without consideration for market dynamics, could result in catastrophic job losses.
After all, the momentum was already building—irrespective of regulations, according to a new feature from 10/12 Industry Report.
“There aren’t a lot of barriers to renewable energy anymore,” Dismukes says. “There are plenty of deals getting made and there’s more interest on the part of the major players. Nobody is forcing them to do that, because it makes good business sense.”
Case in point, BP Oil is transforming itself into an integrated energy company, in part through its Lightsource BP partnership, and becoming a major player in the world solar market.
More recently, Shell purchased a majority stake in Simply Blue Energy’s Emerald Project, a floating wind farm in the Celtic Sea off the south coast of Ireland. It’s the latest in a string of new offshore wind ventures for European oil majors.
“Those aren’t flash-in-the-pan things,” Dismukes says. “Those are real business ventures.”
Back at home, Louisiana is becoming one of the hottest markets for solar development and has one of the highest dollar volumes of announced solar projects in the U.S., according to Louisiana Economic Development. LED expects about 175 MW of new solar power to come online in 2021. Wind power initiatives and biofuels investments are also gaining traction.
Much of the pent-up demand for renewables and net-zero emissions goals comes from industry, not federal initiatives or environmental agendas. “Globally, the U.S. has been the odd man out and a lot of people were disappointed that the Trump administration didn’t take a more proactive business approach to promoting renewable energy,” Dismukes says.