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What to look out for at this year’s Solar and Energy Storage Summit 2024

A sneak peek at the topics our experts will be breaking down this year

3 minute read

On 12th-13th June 2024, Wood Mackenzie will be hosting our annual Solar and Energy Storage Summit in San Francisco.  

Now in its seventeenth year, the Solar Energy and Storage Summit will drive the conversation forward as 50+ expert speakers (representing organisations including the US Dept of Energy, EDP Renewables North America, RWE Clean Energy) come together to discuss how the sector can take advantage of the opportunities provided by the IRA, foster innovation in cell and battery technology and evolve solar and storage business models for the ever-changing energy landscape – among many other topics. 

To give you a flavour of what our experts will be delving into at the event, here are five of the themes our experts will be exploring at SESS this year: 

1. Overcoming global and domestic supply-chain constraints 

Our speakers will address critical challenges in overcoming global and domestic supply-chain constraints. They will explore whether announced domestic factories can meet the industry's scale and quality demands and discuss workforce development to bridge the gap in domestic knowledge and experience in manufacturing at gigawatt scale.  

Additionally, the conversation will cover the impact of the IRA on upstream supply chain elements, such as ingots, wafers, and polysilicon. The effect of delays in transformer supply on BESS deployment, bottlenecks from raw material shortages due to Covid-19 and Chinese tariffs, and the implications of US countervailing measures and the UFLPA (Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act) on equipment availability will also be key discussion points. 

2. The financing landscape post IRA 

The IRA has been widely seen as a net positive for the clean energy sector, and there has been an explosion in new project announcements since the passing of the Act. However, questions remain over how many of the announced projects will actually be financed and built.

Our speakers will delve into the areas where clarity is needed on the PTC/ITC benefits to provide confidence to investors. They will explore how project financing structures have evolved post-IRA, examine the changing appetite for risk among developers, and weigh the pros and cons of advancing merchant propositions versus PPAs and offtake agreements. This discussion will provide valuable insights into the financing landscape and its future direction. 

3. Addressing interconnection bottlenecks – permitting and grid modernisation 

The IRA has facilitated a sharp rise in grid connection applications, making transmission and interconnection a major headwind for solar and storage development in the US. Developers are suffering from extended permitting queues and eye-watering connection charges, which can render projects financially unviable.

Industry experts will discuss how the US legal and regulatory structure needs to change to enable long-term transmission planning. They will highlight necessary grid upgrades to facilitate solar and storage development and propose solutions to rising grid upgrade costs. The discussion will also examine whether these trends are favoring larger development players, providing a comprehensive look at the challenges and opportunities in this area. 

4. The future of US electricity demand 

With the rapid adoption of electric vehicles, the expansion of data centers, the growth in domestic manufacturing, and widespread electrification, US electricity demand is set to surge.

Our experts will discuss how much of this demand will be met with green energy and whether this will lead to delayed abatement of fossil fuels. They will also delve into the investment and funding challenges for utilities, questioning whether they can meet the rising demand without significant cost increases.

Additionally, the opportunities for solar and storage developers in this evolving landscape will be highlighted, providing insights into the future of the industry. 

5. Early-stage development challenges 

Our experts will tackle the various bottlenecks that persist in the permitting process and discuss the best ways to speed up development and clear the backlog in applications.

They will examine how supply-chain disruptions are hampering solar and storage growth and whether domestic production, bolstered by the IRA, will be sufficient to fill the gaps. The conversation will also cover how the solar and storage sectors can engage with local communities to address concerns, educate about misconceptions, and minimize negative impacts.

Solutions to local environmental impacts of solar and storage construction projects, such as site grading, air pollution, and runoffs, will be explored. Additionally, the need for state and federal initiatives to foster the expansion of solar and storage development will be a key focus. 

Sign up for SESS 2024 

Click here to learn more about the event and sign up for this year’s SESS. We look forward to seeing you there! 

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