February 6, 2023
Five Things We Heard at BloombergNEF
By Sage McLaughlin, Business Development Director, Transportation Electrification
Tech, policy, and transportation experts from around the globe gathered recently in San Francisco for the BloombergNEF Summit. The agenda was packed with conversations on the growth of the electric vehicle (EV) industry and its highest hopes for meeting ambitious net-zero and science-based targets.
While a portion of the event focused primarily on batteries, the backdrop of Silicon Valley opened the door to plenty of conversations around technology, finance, and the current state of play when it comes to the clean energy transition.
Here are our five big takeaways:
1. A No-Emissions Cash Cow
The top five EV charging companies raised over $6 billion last year in funding. Patty Monahan, Transportation Lead Commissioner at the California Energy Commission, touted the billions of dollars flowing through California to help ready the market for mass EV adoption. In addition to the tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act and $384 million earmarked to expand the EV charging network in California under the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, the California Air Resources Board has committed $2.6 billion, along with a $1 billion transportation electrification program from utilities and $2.9 billion from the California Energy Commission, to bring EVs to scale in the state.
Other discussions highlighted the need for companies to hire and reprioritize staff to help access the available funding and tax credits, which may require onerous application and reporting requirements. Companies that are positioned to take advantage of the multiple incentive streams from these various agencies will ultimately reduce the cost of their fleet electrification.
2. He Says Hydrogen, She Says Electricity…
No two experts agreed on the future role of renewable hydrogen in transport. Some said hydrogen would take the lead on aviation while electricity would rule the roads; others cited 2030 as “the” year for renewable hydrogen-powered road fleets. We hope for more clarity around the role of hydrogen in the clean energy transition by next year’s summit.
3. Uplifting Communities
There was consensus on the importance of collaboration to solve the nation’s energy challenges, with an emphasis on community input. While there was plenty of talk around the falling costs of EVs and their accessibility to consumers beyond the “arugula-crunching California Tesla drivers,” the meatier conversations turned to the role of mining in the clean energy transition.
While the mining of lithium, nickel, and cobalt will be critical to building out U.S. manufacturing and supply chains, communities living in or near mining locations must be brought into the process early and have their voices heard before the sector can expect their collaboration and support. Experts are watching this space, as mining will inevitably continue to be a challenging issue to navigate.
4. Rising Misinformation
Mary Nichols, Distinguished Counsel at UCLA’s School of Law, discussed the alarming rise of misinformation and its impact on the EV transition. One notable example is the recent backlash from Wyoming lawmakers, who have introduced a new bill that seeks to phase out the sale of new EVs across the state by 2035 – all as a result of misinformation. Experts predict that this will likely continue to infiltrate politics and interfere with widespread adoption.
In a room full of industry leaders seeking to ease the transition, it was a sobering reminder that our climate commitments are only attainable if we’re all working together towards a common goal.
5. The “Era of Implementation”
Annual events are anchored by their ability to bring us back again to see who ‘called it’ the year before. From the tenor of this year’s event, it looks like 2023 will shift from strategy to implementation, with a heavy focus on customer satisfaction. Solving for the medium-and heavy-duty fleet transition is projected to see more startups driving competition and lowering prices by injecting more options into long-haul transport.
Forecasting around wide-scale public charging seeks to improve adoption rates in areas that have lagged, with the California-based audience also calling for safe and reliable charging solutions. With EVs now a decade-old conversation, folks are ready to stop ideation and start the work of implementation.
Click here to learn more about Edison Energy’s Transportation Electrification practice and contact us if you’re looking to take the next step in your transportation electrification journey.
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Business Development Director
I have the privilege of connecting with our clients and partners to help them drive their transportation electrification goals with our teams’ expertise and knowledge. I love to build cool things with cool people and in my role at Edison Energy, I get to work with sustainability and fleet’s leading problem solvers to advise and execute on our clients’ visions.
Prior to Edison Energy, I worked for Duke Energy, where I pioneered their Strategic Account Management department and ran an Analytic Incubator for the regulated utility.
B.S. in Communication Studies – University of Idaho
Energy Innovation and Emerging Technologies Professional Certification – Stanford University